Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A to Z Challenge: B is for Boredom


Welcome to the 2013 A to Z Challenge!

This year, I’m focusing on two themes:  Emotions and grammar,
depending on which letter we’re on each day.

I’ll be sharing mostly what I’ve learned about writing emotion into a novel, but I’ll also be throwing in a few key grammar lessons, pet peeves I’ve picked up while working as an editor.


Today’s an emotion day!

__________

B is for boredom:  the state of being tired or distracted; to make weary by being dull, repetitious, or uninteresting; a pervasive lack of interest; an attentional lapse.

Boredom is a tough one because it’s more about what’s not being shown.  There is generally no engagement with a character who is bored.  They stare off into space with a blank face, doodle on a piece of paper, or keep checking the time.  They fidget, sigh heavily, and exhibit signs of tiredness such as slouching or yawning.  They drum their fingers and roll their eyes in impatience, because boredom is mostly about the limitation of energy, not having any way to satisfy the need to expend it.

Boredom is an emotion you want to use very sparingly as it will slow the action and tension in a scene, offering the reader a perfect place to put the book down.



40 comments:

Cynthia said...

I learned in a class once that when a character is looking out the window at nothing in particular, it is a sign of boredom. So that's something I've been paying attention to when I read.

Carrie Butler said...

I forget what boredom is like...

(Says the woman still working at 3:20 a.m. LOL)

Great post, Nancy! :)

T. Drecker said...

After reading this, I realized how 'active' boredom is. But you're right, it shouldn't be used too much in a story. Otherwise the reader will get bored too :)

mooderino said...

A little humour can help make boredom more palatable, I think.

mood
Moody Writing

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I wasn't bored yesterday!
You can make boredom interesting with a layer of impatience.

Clare said...

Excellent theme, Nancy, I look forwards to reading all your posts, and will be going back to check A now.

I can't recall that I've ever written a character who's bored, but you described it perfectly. I agree, writers would need to use it carefully, so not to drag the narrative down.

JeffO said...

Ah, but you can have the character being bored while the reader is on edge because he knows that something really exciting/terrible/horrifying is creeping...up...rightNOW!

Natalie Aguirre said...

I can't say I'm bored much. I can see this would be a hard one to use much.

Juli said...

Great theme for the challenge. I look forward to seeing your daily posts.

Melanie Schulz said...

The only thing worse than being bored yourself is reading about someone who is bored. :)

Nick Wilford said...

It might be good if you have a contrast and the character very suddenly has a reason NOT to be bored (eg a grizzly bear breaking into their trailer or something). :)

Stuart Lloyd said...

Looking forward to reading about more emotions and more about grammar. I'm certainly not bored.

www.lloydofgamebooks.com

L.G. Smith said...

Yeah, tricky that. Having a bored character but avoiding the bored reader. Something has to be lurking off page to stir things up.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I haven't been bored in years!

Donna K. Weaver said...

I've thought for years that boredom is a frame of mind. I've always got so much going I don't have time to be bored. Good choice!

celeste holloway said...

Great advice! It's no fun to read about bored characters. I like action!

Laura Marcella said...

Hello, Nancy! Bored characters are only good to read and write about if their boredom quickly leads them to some kind of exciting trouble.

Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

Mark Means said...

I think you give some great examples of showing boredom...well done :)

Julie Luek said...

Good point-- not every emotion should be used profusely in a novel. I can see where this one, especially, could really slow a pace down!

petedenton said...

I'm happy to say that at the moment, I have too much to do to find myself bored. Long may that continue. Happy A to Z'ing :)

kelliforniadreaming said...

I've always wondered if boredom is masking some deeper, hidden emotion. Can't remember the last time I was bored!

Sarah Seeley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah Seeley said...

Cool theme. I like that you give an example of how to show the emotion in a character. Nicely done.

Slithers of Thought (WR)

Heather M. Gardner said...

Good point. We never want the reader to put the book down!

HMG

mrkelly2u said...

Interesting topic for a post and I like how you have given examples. I think frustration can also be a key element of boredom - being bored for a sustained amount of time can create a different kind of tension.

deathwriter said...

Nobody likes boredom or a bored character. Since I write nonfiction, I always try and interview people while they are doing something so the scene isn't boring. I learned this the hard way.

Brett Minor said...

In real life, boredom was not something I ever contemplated. My dad always said, "Boredom is for people who don't have the mental capacity to think and entertain themselves."

In other words, only stupid people get bored. Plus, he always has a pig barn to clean or tractor to fix for anyone who complained about boredom.

Dropping by from A to Z. This is my first year participating.

Brett Minor
Transformed Nonconformist

Nagzilla said...

Great insight. And boredom breeds boredom, so that's definitely not good for the reader.

Hi from Nagzilla bloghopping A to Z

jamieayres.com said...

Great post!!

Lisa said...

I also try not to write in a boring way! Sometimes I find I'm writing something that just sounds monotonous and I quickly dig in my heels and pull back. Unless it's a first draft and I'm just trying to get it all down fast. I don't use boring much with my protagonists, for the very reason you wrote about. Thanks, and thanks for the comment on my blog! Nice to have you visit...

mshatch said...

I'm glad I'm so seldom bored. I remember being bored as a kid, teen, and young adult but after that...I guess I finally learned how to entertain myself :)

Ella said...

I hate that word, lol Especially said by teens, when there is plenty to do. I am never bored...

Great tip for writing ;D
Well done~

John Wiswell said...

I think boredom has only shown up once in either of my novels. A character was deliberately trying to get bored to avoid having a panic attack at the prison outbreak around him. I try to find unusual applications for emotions sometimes.

klahanie said...

Hey Nancy,

Well I'm certainly not bored. Although I know some folks who are so boring that awkward silence seems like a fun idea :)

Nice one, Nancy. Do I get Bonus points for commenting at three in the morning?

Gary, your friendly host of the alternate alphabet challenge :)

Sarah said...

If a character is bored, then it could be a sign that the writer should pick up the pace in the story.

Thanks for the tip! :)

Tia Bach said...

Love your theme. I look forward to popping back in for some grammar and emotion. Boredom is an emotion I would love to occasionally experience. ;-)

B = Building Bildungsroman

Chuck said...

I suspect boredom is a tough emotion to communicate through the written word without coming right out and saying, "I'm freaking bored!". However looks like you have figured some good ways to overcome that.

Chuck at Apocalypse Now

Robin said...

Well noted-no time for boredom. I don't want anyone to have a perfect spot to put my book down (when I have one, that is:) )

I'm doing grammar for A to Z as well. It'll be fun to see what you post and if we talk about the same things.

The Wayward Gifted said...

This was very interesting. In very few words you've shared quite a lot. I'm enjoying your theme. See you tomorrow!

Empty Nest Insider said...

I didn't think writers were ever bored, as long as there's a pen and pad of paper close at hand.

Julie