When presented with a boring topic or boring research materials, writers can either reject the topic, throw out the materials, or find a way to turn the topic into an exiting read.
By Joan Whetzel
As writers, we’ve all run across those topics and research materials that are so-o-o-o boring, we’re talking cures for insomnia here. Sometimes these topics are assigned to us by a writing site or a publication that we regularly write for; other times we stumble on the unexciting topics ourselves or we discover the mind-numbing materials as part of our research for something we are writing. When this happens, writers have a few choices: (1) we can turn down the assignment, which may come at a price; (2) if it’s an optional topic, we can simply toss it out; or (3) we can find a way to turn the topic and materials from snooze fest to attention-grabbing. The following list offers ways to help writers do just that. They can be used alone or in any combination the writer sees fit. They can also be modified to fit each writer’s style.
1. Create a Great Title
Titles are the first thing readers see – the one thing that draws readers in or warns them off. So it goes without saying that it doesn’t matter how great the content is, if the readers can’t make it past the title, they are not going to read any further. To create a title that attracts readers try these tips:
Grabbing the readers’ attention with the first paragraph is the next most important element. The readers will get the gist of what you’re writing about within the first few sentences. Even the most interest inspiring title can’t keep your readers awake if your first paragraph puts them right to sleep. A few dos and don’ts:
3. Use Images
Images help illustrate the writer’s words and bring the topic to life. They provide a visual element for those readers who absorb material visually rather than just through words. Images include the following:
The images should be relevant to the topic in some way. They should also be accompanied by a caption that explains the reason the image was included. It’s the same with the cover art on most paperback and hardback books. The image on the front cover is somehow related to the story on the pages inside. Images are one of the things that draw readers in. They hold the promise of a special message for the readers to be delivered by the writer’s words. If the connections between the image(s) and the message are profound enough, simply seeing the image will help the readers recall the message later.
4. Know Your Audience
The timeless advice “Know Your Audience” is important. Knowing the audience or readership helps writers tighten their writing and come up with just the right angle. Having a specific reader in mind helps writers get to the point because the readership is looking for specific information which the writer provides. Try these tips:
5. Find a New Angle
Sometimes, the reason the research material or the topic seems so boring is that all the writers out there seem to be writing the same story. Nobody has come up with a new angle or a new way to present the material. Finding that new angle means:
6. Be an Expert
When writing for a blog, a site or a publication that will allow it, ask your regular readers to ask their questions on a specific topic, especially if it is something your regularly write on. Then write several articles or blogs with a Q&A format where you answer the reader’s questions. If you have a regular readership that sends you questions, you can use these questions in the same manner.
Another way to become an expert on a topic is just to be so interested in something that you can’t wait to find out everything you can about that topic. Your enthusiasm come across in your writing, which will automatically make that topic more interesting. Not only that, but if you keep writing about all the things you are discovering, you will become the defacto, go-to authority. Your readers will keep coming back for more.
7. Be Descriptive
Being descriptive means adding details and using just the right words to make the writing come to life. It means:
8. Tell Stories
Telling stories or including anecdotes serve three purposes: (1) they show readers that the writer knows what he or she is talking about, (2) they break up all the facts and figures and technical information, and (3) they illustrate the topic in a more meaningful and personal way. The key factor here is that the stories must be related to the topic and help illustrate the point which the writer is trying to make.
9. Add Humor
Everyone enjoys a good joke or a little comic relief. Adding comic strip style humor is quite
effective as an illustration or image for any written material. The “Dummies” books use them all the time. Court jesters in olden times were hired by the king to come in and poke fun at the local politics and political figures. “Saturday Night Live” works in a similar manner. I once heard it said that you knew you’d made it if you made it into a skit on “Saturday Night Live.” Humor can make a point in a way that is nonthreatening and hurts no one. Some of the best speeches and sermons I have ever heard were punctuated with occasional jokes, especially when used to lighten the mood when the material starts becoming really dark or begins to drone on with too much technical material. Gentle humor allows people seem themselves in a situation and even gets them to laugh at themselves.
10. Write in a Problem-Solution Format
The Problem-Solution format is written in much the same manner as this article you are reading write now. It broken up into several small “articles” with headings. The headings name the problem or, in the case of this article, name the tip that reader is looking for. The paragraph or two that follows the heading explains the heading in a little more detail. This format allows the reader to read the introductory paragraph then scan through the article to pick and choose the sub-topics that peak their interest the most. The reader may choose whether he or she wishes to read the rest of the sub-topics. The point of this type of writing is that, by breaking the topic into multiple small sections, the reader can get to the information they quickly. They can either skip over what the already know or don’t need, or they can come back to the rest later as time permits. It’s also easier to read when you’re in a hurry.
11. Tie Your Topic into Current Events
The main reason to add current events as a tie-in is that current events make any topic more relevant and it helps to pique readers’ interest. To tie in current events:
Using these tips to add a little personality and pizzazz to your writing can turn any boring topic or research material into a great read. Go through the topic and research materials and give them a exhilarating tweak.