Satire Non-Fiction posted June 10, 2023

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The Art Of Sleep

by giraffmang


Have you ever been bored rigid by a story or book? I’m guessing you have. Me, too. But all is not lost. Boredom doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Sometimes you just need to sit and stew in your own juices and let your mind wander off aimlessly. Perhaps you haven’t been able to sleep and need some kind of cure for the incessant insomnia. See, boredom can be a good thing and if you wish to pass this kind of generosity on then stick around to the end of this post! What follows is a quick guide to ensure your story or book will be eminently put-downable.

Tell, Don’t Show – Why waste precious time and effort on drawing your reader into the work? Adding colour to your piece only keeps the reader engaged and immersed in the text. Don’t show us the white-knuckled, trembling fists, flushed cheeks, and the flitting eyes when you can just say the character was angry and scared. Remember, your reader doesn’t want to experience what the character is going through, broad strokes do the job. That’s why Cliff Notes are so popular.

Use of the Long-Winded, Exposition-laden Monologue – Have your characters explain everything in massively-long monologues. I know that in real life I always appreciate being out for the evening and having someone talk for an hour about everything they’ve ever done without anyone taking a breath or being able to get a word in edgewise. And remember, when writing that dialogue, to explain every minute detail and never break it up with interjections of body language, inference of tone, or inner thought process.

Repetition is Key – Triple redundancy works for the military and government bodies so why not use it to full effect in your writing? Make your characters think about how they feel, then tell someone how they feel, and then have them do something to show how they feel (but not too much as denoted in the first point above). It is most important to make sure you do this all in the same paragraph to make the biggest impact.

Disregard the Setting – Setting can be too much of a distraction for the casual, uninterested reader. They much prefer to picture the vague character in a featureless beige box. Always remember the goal, you’re trying to send the reader to sleep, so, never use a vivid setting to create atmosphere, hint at conflict, build tension or reflect the character’s emotional state.

Over-Indulge the Setting – This may seem counterproductive given the previous point but bear with me. Indulge yourself and describe the setting for page after page after page after page…. Give the reader every titchy, tiny detail. Relate the landscape, geology, politics, religions, socio-economic systems and, most importantly of all, the weather. It is important to do this as a massive info-dump and not in an intrinsic, organic way which relates to character or plot. Readers love info-dumps unencumbered by character or plot.

Revel in the Tiny Details – Never assume the reader has any common sense or an imagination. It’s always best to describe things in explicit depth. The reader struggles to imagine how a character may cross a room without knowing which was the leading foot, what they narrowly avoided bumping into and the exact angle they glanced the coffee mug from. As the writer, you should assume that the reader has no idea of how someone would cross a room.

Bloat the Character Roster – Readers of a certain persuasion love the introduction of secondary characters with no purpose, especially when those characters come with extensive background histories and stories and only pop up for a scene or two and are never heard from again.

The Convenient Characters – This is the antonym of the previous point. It’s always fun when a couple of poorly drawn, barely 2-dimensional characters randomly pop up just in time to provide an answer or solve something for the protagonist. And then they, too, disappear in the next scene.

The Pedestrian Protagonist – Have your protagonist float through the story. They shouldn’t participate in anything exciting, never solve their own problems or overcome their own obstacles. All of those bits should happen off-stage so your character can hear about them through some exposition from another character. The best stuff always happens somewhere else and the gossip and hearsay much more compelling, isn’t it? Remember, second-hand is literary gold!

Only Have a Vague Notion of Plot – plot is annoying. It gets in the way.

I think that about sums it up. Follow these golden rules and you’ll have created one of the best sleep-aids on the market. If this proves successful for you, drop me a line, but be warned, I might not reply quickly. I’ll probably be asleep…

Story of the Month contest entry


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