How to Bore Your Readers to Tears
Updated: Mar 6, 2019
If you want to bore your readers to tears, it’s quite straightforward. Just make sure you keep all your sentences exactly the same length throughout your writing. This one simple trick will ensure your writing is impossibly dull and almost guarantees your readers won’t make it to the end of your article.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at this example:
“This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety.”
Now read this lyrical, engaging text:
“Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentence of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I’ll engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of drums, the crash of the cymbals-sound that say listen to this, it is important.”
Whether your style is a machine-gun attack of short sentences or a plethora of meandering long sentences, you can have too much of a good thing. The writer’s job is to cater to the reader, not to your own personal style.
There is a current trend towards shorter sentence structures. This is partly influenced by the medium of the internet. Everyone now knows that the reader’s attention span is limited for on-screen text and writing has evolved to meet these new demands. But you can take it too far. How many times have you read a snappy blog only to feel somewhat talked down to? An excess of shorter sentences can sound childish and unsophisticated, as well as creating a rushed, choppy rhythm to the writing.
Writing is at its best when it uses a variety of sentence lengths and grammatical structures. A longer sentence serves to offer more detail, to focus in on the issue, to examine a concept more thoroughly or provide a weighty description. A short sentence gets to the point. And a medium length sentence adds the perfect balance.
How to avoid the dreary monotony of repetitive sentence lengths? Read your writing out loud. Once you have sentence length on your radar, similar length sentences will start jumping out at you, revealing the reason why your writing is somehow missing the mark. It’s a simple issue to fix and it will make all the difference to your work. Just try it.