How to Take Any Story from “Boring” to “Dangerously Exciting”

Here’s a secret:

Your readers can feel you.

When you smile, they will laugh.

Write something that makes you tear up, and their eyes will sting.

The bad news? When you get tired and bored with your story (this happens a ton during NaNoWriMo or other long writing “campaigns”)…

…your readers will too. They will use your book as a pillow. They will drool all over the cover. And when they wake up, they probably won’t pick up your book again.

How can we fix this? What should a writer do when they “just don’t feel it anymore?”

How to Fix Every Boring Story Ever

The first rule: do NOT give up on your story.

If you have a tendency to give up on your writing – if you jump from “good idea” to “good idea,” you will never finish anything.

I’ve been there. I have a disgusting history of leaving a trail of half-formed stories for dead. You will learn so much more from finishing a “bad” story than you will from starting a hundred “really good story ideas.”

The second rule: make a wild pivot.

You hate your side characters. You don’t really care where the plot is going.

And your setting is about as interesting as a mud puddle.

Great. No problem.

Here’s how you fix it: make a hard, fast change in your story.

  • Lush, green fantasy world growing stale? Light it all on fire.
  • Romantic interest too obvious? Throw another girl/guy/alien into the mix (Alien romance? Thanks Wattpad).
  • Space-faring adventure too successful? Make the plan blow up in everyone’s face.

The creators of South Park actually have a brilliant rule that outlines this point.

Put simply, you write conflict into every part of your story:

Something goes right, BUT….

Something goes wrong, THEREFORE….

The more conflict you generate, the more interesting your story will be – up to a point, obviously. We can’t all write Telenovelas. 


In short:

  1. Don’t quit
  2. Ruin your story
  3. Free yourself from boring stories.

When you pick up the pieces you will find the flecks of gold that were there all along. With these, you will turn your boring story into an unforgettable one.


Talk to me: how do you ruin a story? 

Or, learn how to make your chapters irresistible page-turners.


4 thoughts on “How to Take Any Story from “Boring” to “Dangerously Exciting””

  1. Hey P.S., good points…i have a sequel to my first adventure novel that seems to have stopped short – i finished the story too quickly and it’s not as long as the first book…already set things on fire, i like the side characters (a few bad guys, a few idiots, etc), but the story seems to be winding up too soon and i can’t figure out how to fill in the not-so-apparent gaps…any advice? (feel free to send directly to my email, thanks)

    1. I wrote out a whole list of questions to ask yourself, but I think there is an easier answer….

      I’ll try to make a post on “questions to ask yourself after finishing your novel” later. For now, let’s get to the good stuff.

      Can you add another story thread? Maybe another major character to focus on? Take, for example, the new James Bond movies (Quantum of Solace, et al) are NOT just about Bond being a super agent. They added a new story line to the stale 007 series by tossing in a SERIOUS romantic interest that spans several movies.

      Not only did this breed a new level of intrigue, it helped them stretch out what could have been one really long action movie into three.

      The second question you can ask yourself, to add to the first, is this: Have I set up enough for the next book?

      Many authors use the second book as a bridge – a very exciting bridge, but a bridge nonetheless. This bridge builds further on the tension present in the first story, but it does not have a cathartic ending. Instead, it stores up all those emotions, so that the third book can pack a really big punch.

      Think Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Good book, but not the definitive one in the series, by far.

      This was a really good question, one I’ve not heard before. Let me know if this helps.

      1. P.S., you’ve asked some good questions…but i don’t see a third book (not yet anyway), even though i do like the protagonists…just gave ’em a different set of bad guys in the 2nd book, is all. something to ponder..may go back to the first book to see if i left anything unfinished or a relationship that can be broadened…i like the idea of another story thread that i can weave in at some point…may think about that one. thanks for the input.

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