Signal anything but virtue

Virtue is boring—sinfully boring—as anyone who’s had to sit through a Catholic mass will tell you. Yet many authors just can’t seem to stop filling their book with virtuous asides and patent diatribes. As if they were dead-set on sucking the entertainment out of the entertainment they were trying to sell.

Personally, I think a good ol’ fashion revival is in order. Stake the tent and pack the bleachers, clap your hands and sing! I’m talking about the difference between showing and telling, between coercing and persuading, between preaching to the choir and leading the choir in song.

You want to convince others of the glory of God? Of new atheism? Of libertarianism? Of anti-racism? Fine, but you gotta sing it. You gotta make it fun. Immerse your readers in a real conundrum, breathe life into every side of the debate, and only then will that sanctimonious darling become the revelatory turning point you intended.

And if all that seems like a tremendous distraction from your hero’s journey? Just cut the line and tell the story you really want to tell, sans pamphletary. Your readers will be happier, and the world will be better as a result.