Let’s face it. A lot of what we have to write about in non-fiction is not very exciting. If you are authoring a story about a new type of bolt, or the fact that your product is now 0.5% more efficient, it’s hardly groundbreaking, stop-the-press stuff. Accept it.

Filling the story with superlatives, exaggerating the importance or faking enthusiasm isn’t going to work. But neither is sincere monotony either. What do you do? Add a little sparkle. Here are some examples:

I once had to pen 3000 words about how the divisions between the banking and insurance fields had blurred – perhaps the driest subject I’ve ever written about. It was an obscure piece about the fine-points of shifts in banking and insurance regulations. It went into the history, very subtle changes and how this was now playing out. It was strictly watch-the-paint-dry material.

To hook the reader, the story began like this:

“About 900 years ago, the Mongol hordes invaded the Russian Steppes, displacing the local population. The Russians fled into Poland, displacing the Poles. A domino effect was created across Europe. A similar thing is happening today in banking and insurance.”

It then explained the regulatory details in laborious detail. It ended with a paragraph with additional sparkle, but the details escape me. Two tiny bits of creativity in a sea of ponderous coverage of legislative ramblings.

That client remarked afterwards that the Mongol hordes reference got him more new business than any other piece of advertising or promotion. The insurance and banking folks LOVED being characterized as invading marauders.

Another example: a story attacking the many built-in features of Windows XP. It could easily have turned into a carping criticism of point after point of lite versions of more substantial software offerings. But saying, this is no good, and that is no good for 1500 words was going to make it tough to read.

The sparkle? Calling it the Clint Eastwood guide to Windows XP, and pretending that Clint himself was reviewing it. That allowed levity, half a dozen references to Eastwood classics, and some of his most famous lines to be trotted out as put-downs for dodgy XP features.

Final example: a story about a type of power plant that could either have a single shaft connecting the generation equipment or multiple shafts. Again, not a prime-time, headline news topic. What to do? Begin by discussing the seventies movie classic “Shaft,” starring Richard Roundtree with its Oscar-winning soundtrack by the great Isaac Hayes. Remind the audience about the Samuel. L. Jackson remake from the early 2000s and then ask, are two Shafts better than one? From there it rolled easily into the details of the one-shaft-versus-two story in all its power generation glory. We had some fun with the artwork, too, as we could incorporate some psychedelic images.

Business writing may not be exciting all the time. But it is up to the writer to generate his or her own excitement and inject some interest into the story. It can be overdone. But a little fun in the intro, a reference to a current event, citing a movie title, a pun in a subhead can help ease the eyes across the page. Just a tiny touch of life is often all it takes to turn what can be dry material into something people will read.