MovieLine recently published an article by Seth Abramovitch about a memo written by the well-known screenwriter (and director, among other things), David Mamet. "David Mamet's Master Class Memo to the Writers of The Unit" reproduces the entire memo, which is worth a read both because it's full of good writing points (regardless of the genre or medium in which you write) and beause it's funny. Abramovitch describes it this way: "Besides the fact that it’s written in all-caps, there’s nothing particularly ranty, pejorative or potty-mouthed about it. Rather, Mamet lays down an extremely sensible case for what makes good television, imploring them to avoid expository writing for what he characterizes as authentic 'drama.'"
Although writing for television or the screen is a very specialized form of writing, the basics of good writing remain the same. One of those basic points is that we must not bore our readers (or viewers, in this case). Mamet's memo to this a group of TV writers is very clear on this point:
"IF THE SCENE BORES YOU WHEN YOU READ IT, REST ASSURED IT WILL BORE THE ACTORS, AND WILL, THEN, BORE THE AUDIENCE, AND WE’RE ALL GOING TO BE BACK IN THE BREADLINE."
How can you tell if you're boring your readers? If your mind starts to wander when you're reading your work, that's a clear sign you need to re-think what you've written. If you can't hold your own interest, you probably aren't captivating your readers, either.
Photo courtesy of Michael Lorenzo at http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1094329