Don’t Be Boring!

Boring is, in fact, the kiss of death in my business, as it is in most others…8 practical recommendations.


Some years ago, I was on a panel of literary agents at a writer’s conference.

Attending authors volunteered to hand over the first page of their manuscripts with no names or identifying marks on them.  We would then review and discuss as many as we had time for in front of a pretty large audience.

The idea was for agents to give honest feedback with no danger of public embarrassment for the authors.

One of the last samples we evaluated started off with a long and lovingly detailed description of cloud formations against a vast mountain range.  The writing was fine, pretty even, but that long opening paragraph made me blurt out what many of us were thinking, “This is a perfect example of writing.  Inoffensive, but boring.”

I’m pretty sure that our critiques that day had, at times, been much snarkier, but the author of this particular piece was mightily offended, going so far as to drop the mantle of anonymity in order to complain to the conference organizers.

Boring,” it seems, is a worse insult than “bad” or “inept.”    While there was nothing technically wrong with this writer’s prose, it was hard to get through that opening paragraph without a yawn.

And, as anyone who has ever browsed the front tables at their local Barnes & Noble knows, if you’re bored by the first paragraph of a book, you’re unlikely to plop down $25 for it, much less invest the hours it will take to read it.

Boring is, in fact, the kiss of death in my business, as it is in most others.

I maintain that boring costs us business, undermines productivity, and generally kills brain cells.  Think of how many e-mails you’ve received from diligent but pathologically boring business associates that contain important information you neglected to read because you could not get past the dense thicket of tedious verbiage.

Think of how close you came to blowing up your kitchen because the instructions to your latest instant cooking gadget are too exhausting to read in full.

Or how many people you have purposely avoided during a company function for fear of being trapped in a conversation that is the small talk equivalent of Dante’s eighth circle of hell.

There is an epidemic of boring content in the business world today, and not just in our communications.  The way we conduct endless, pointless meetings, enforce drab dress codes, and employ incomprehensible corporate jargon like a weapon of mass boredom makes us less effective, not more.

Next page- So, what’s the solution?  8 practical recommendations. 

Miriam Goderich
Miriam Goderich
Miriam Goderich is a partner in Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC, a well respected, New York based literary agency with an impressive client list. She is involved in developing new projects and taking them from the conceptual stage to publication and her areas of interest include literary and commercial fiction as well as some genre fiction, narrative nonfiction, pop culture, psychology, history, science, art, business books, and biography/memoir. Miriam received a BA in Comparative Literature and an MA in English from Columbia University. She was born in Cuba and grew up in Spain and Miami, Florida.

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