Your Light Novel Will Actually Be Better if It’s Boring

One aspect of fiction easy to forget are the seemingly pointless details. Any decent author will tell you not to spend pages detailing what the protagonist had for dinner.

And she’s right. Unless you’re appealing to readers with some kind of food description fetish, it would be pointless, jarring, and boring at best.

However, that doesn’t mean you should never mention what your characters had for dinner. If you don’t, it’s unlikely anyone would notice or even care. But you still should. Why?

For the sake of immersion. This is a term typically used in reference to video games, but it’s equally important in fiction.

Especially for Light Novels (LN) where you’re already asking the reader to suspend their disbelief to a higher degree than usual.

To make your readers really care about your story, characters, and world, you have to immerse them in it. You need to make every aspect of those elements as detailed as possible without distracting from the LN as a whole.

That means spending time on those seemingly pointless details. Doing so will generate a sense of realism in an otherwise unrealistic world.

Keeping the story progressing is important, but don’t skimp on the finer details. Each time your story presents a chance to build immersion for your readers by crafting a logical, consistent world, take it.

What I’m trying to say is that there is beauty in the boring.

The easiest way to illustrate this is through food. It’s also where I got the idea for this article. The video below by MrBtongue details the importance of ‘boring’ details in the Fallout video game series.

His primary argument is that the world of Fallout 3 makes absolutely no sense compared to the world of Fallout: New Vegas.

The first presents a bunch of locations that are cool for the sake of being cool and entertaining the player.

The second sacrifices coolness for the sake of crafting a world that makes sense and feels real. To the point where you feel you’re not playing a game at all, but living in that world.

To me—this is the point of fiction. If you can create a story from which readers are unable to tear their eyes away, a world in which they can see themselves living, and characters they perceive as close friends, you have succeeded.

You have totally immersed your readers.

So, how do you pull it off?

To answer that, we must discuss food. The question MrBtongue asks over and over throughout the video is: “What do they eat?”

Answering that question is the most important when trying to build immersion. And it creates a number of other questions you should answer while writing your LN.

But let’s just focus on food for now.

What Do They Eat?

A stupid question? Perhaps. Who has time to waste detailing what the hero’s party had for lunch in the middle of an epic war?

Thus, it isn’t a question many authors care to answer. They assume most readers wouldn’t care either. True, most don’t, but only on a surface level.

Deep down, humans craves logic. It’s why many authors insist on spending several pages detailing how their magic system operates or how their weapons were forged. It’s why critics love to seek out even the tiniest plot hole and tear the story apart because of it.

When the core aspects of an LN’s story, characters, or world don’t make sense, readers get upset.

But the above examples are the major elements of fiction. Most Authors don’t spend time on the minor elements even though they should.

And why should they?

Because those minor elements solidify the believability of the major elements.

Sure, but what’s the easiest way to do this?

By asking: what do they eat?

Let’s apply this question to the characters and world of your story.

What Do Your Characters Eat?

If your entire story takes place in under twelve hours or so, it would be fine if no one stopped to eat. Any longer and your characters might get a little upset.

Unless you’ve got photosynthesizing aliens or androids as every character, people have to eat to survive. Even then, you’ll have to account for whatever power source keeps those non-humans going.

Most readers won’t notice unless it’s pointed out. But if you never mention food, observant readers will be left wondering how they’ve fought an entire war or traveled across the sea without a single meal.

Eromanga Sensei’s Hikikomori Imouto is only kept alive by the protagonist setting food in front of her door every day. A seemingly throwaway observation that reveals how much the protagonist cares for her. Image Copyright: Aniplex

This might sound like a pain, but all you need are a few throwaway sentences to add significant depth to your story. You can even create entire scenes from your characters sitting down to eat. LNs are known for their dialogue and what better place to talk than at the dinner table?

Here are a couple examples of how easy it is to mention food without distracting from the story.

  1. Before your characters head to their next destination. Try:
    • “We rounded up an assortment of dried foods and filled our canteens to the brim in preparation for our weeklong trek through the wilderness.”
  2. Have them stop for a meal once they’ve arrived in the new location. Something like a local tavern or dive bar is a great place to collect information and get something to eat. Try:
    • “Starving and clueless as to where I might find work, I asked the first person I saw to point me to the best bar in town.”

Even if you don’t turn this into a scene, you can summarize it by mentioning what the protagonist learned and how they feel much better with some food in their belly.

What Do the Inhabitants of Your World Eat?

A world without food doesn’t make much sense, does it? It’s one of three primary resources for survival. You’d give your characters a roof to sleep under and air to breathe. Why not provide food and water as well?

The problem is how.

I mean, do you even know how food gets to your plate?

The grocery store, you say.

But how did it get there? Where did it come from? Who prepared it?

A million intricate systems have to function in unison every day to keep a country’s citizens well fed. And yet, the ‘how’ rarely crosses a person’s mind.

You cannot even being to imagine the sheer amount of effort and coordination required by a million different farmers, truck drivers, businessmen, and so on to create a single pizza. Image by PublicDomainImages from Pixabay

Such thoughts certainly didn’t pass through mine until watching the above video.

But I still don’t really care to know the details. It’s enough for me know that farms and factories and delivery trucks exist.

It’s not important for me to know how my steak went from the birth of the cow to its arrival in edible form on my dinner plate.

I understand a whole lot took place, but the details are irrelevant to me and just about anyone else not directly involved.

As contradictory to what I’ve already said as this sounds, the same goes for your LN.

No reader will ever care to know exactly how the characters in your world are able to eat and drink. But they should still be given as many details as possible.

So long as you’re not outright stalling the story’s progress to elaborate on the husbandry of whatever alien beast serves as your world’s primary food source that is. If such ‘boring’ details detract from your story as a whole. don’t include them.

Anyway, here are some examples of how you can subtlety add some food logic to your world.

  1. Are your characters on the outskirts of a major city? Try:
    • “Innumerable plots of farmland ran east of the city’s outskirts. A quick question to a passing farmer revealed each to contain nothing but potatoes.”
  2. Inside the city? Try:
    • “The assassin chased me into the factory district. Signs mounted high outside the front of each reminded me of my empty gut. Pastries, deli meats, potato chips, all junk, but I’d have eaten just about anything at that point.”

Furthermore, this logic extends to every creature that requires food in your world. Whether the characters come across dangerous beasts in the desert or bandits in the wilderness, what those entities eat should be mentioned as well.

It might be tempting to fill your world with cool entities for the sake of being interesting, but you should treat every element of your world equally.

Each needs to fit into the world as a whole. If any one thing doesn’t make sense, you risk breaking your readers’ immersion.

An Immersive Story Provides a Personal Connection

Ok, but why is immersion so important? If the majority of readers don’t care for all these pointless details, why should I include them? Won’t readers get annoyed if I slow the story’s sense of tension and progress by including them?

They might. There’s no way you can appeal to every one of your readers. And you likely won’t annoy the majority if you provide such details in a subtle manner.

But still, why take the risk at all?

Because the ultimate goal of writing fiction is to have your reader forge a personal connection with your story, characters, and world.

Rather than treat your LN as something to use as a cheap entertainment, you want them to genuinely care about it.

I still dwell on the dystopian setting of Psycho-Pass today because of all the ‘boring’ details. What they ate (synthetic food made from oats), how people are assigned jobs instead of choosing them, and the intricacies of its law enforcement systems were all briefly mentioned, but left a lasting impression. Image copyright: Dentsu

You can make them care by immersing them in your world. Not only through an engaging story and loveable characters, but also a realistic world riddled with meaningful details.

Doing so will allow readers to lose themselves in your LN and it will soon take up permanent residence in their heads. People still play and discuss Fallout: New Vegas to this day (it came out in 2010!) because of its endless immersive details.

So, next time you sit down to craft your world, just ask: what do they eat?

This is the end of the article, but I’ve included additional elements to keep in mind below if you really want to immerse your readers.

Some Other Immersion Amplifiers to Level Up Your Light Novel

Real life is anything but simple. Just to get by as a single adult, you need to account for food, water, shelter, an income, a bank, various forms of insurance, and so on and so forth. I know none of you want to be reminded of such horrors, so I’ll stop.

Yet, one must never forget any one of those things if they wish to survive. And neither should your characters.

While I wouldn’t write (or read) a story about someone comparing car insurance plans, even the simplest needs (like needing to earn money for food) can be the basis of a great story.

Here are a few ‘immersion amplifiers’ and some questions you should be asking.

This is not a complete list (I could write a book on this), but what I personally like to mention in my LNs for the sake of immersion.


How are they able to fund their journey?

Want dinner? They need money. Need to stay in an inn? They need money. Want to bribe someone? They need money.

You get the idea. Just as in reality, your characters cannot survive without money. Unless your world is communistic (though they’d still need food stamps) or relies on bartering (though they’d still need goods to barter), you must give your characters access to some form of currency.

They can work, steal, or whatever else to acquire money. The method doesn’t matter as long as they can afford the basic necessities of life. I mean, no one questions the characters spending summer vacation on a private beach if one of them comes from a wealthy family.

So, spend a few sentences establishing how much money your characters have (and need) and where it comes/came from.


How did they get there? Was it on foot? By car? Plane? Bus? Who cares?

I care!

If one chapter has your characters stuck on an island and back on the mainland in the next without you ever mentioning how, I’ll be left wondering whether someone saved them, they built a boat, or somehow swam across the ocean.

Again, the method doesn’t matter, but never fail to mention how your characters get from one place to the next. Plus, a travel scene is a great way to provide some quiet time in your story and let your characters interact with each other outside of high-tension situations.

However, establishing this can be redundant. But only if you mention it more than once.

If your characters frequent the same locations (like school), you only have to mention how they got there once.

From then on, you can cut right to that location and readers will assume the characters got there the same way they did earlier.


How are they able to see?

This might sound strange, but it is as important as it is easy to forget.

For example, my fantasy series, On Creating the Ultimate Weapon, is set in a world that has yet to discover electricity.

Thus, they must rely on fire on a torch or oil in a lamp for light. And I, taking light for granted, keep forgetting (until the editing phase) to tell my readers how my characters are able to see in this dark world.

Did they enter an inn at night? Better have some lit candles.

Did they enter a cavern? Better have a torches or oil lamps and something with which to light them.

Bright moonlight helps out a lot. But their eyes need to adjust to the darkness first.

Being able to see is important and remembering to mention how is doubly so. Obviously, you don’t have to remind your readers over and over about their flashlights or whatever, but never fail to mention them at least once.

Should you forget, the observant reader will envision absolute darkness and either be impressed by your characters’ supernatural eyesight or confused as to how they’re able to see in an underwater cavern.

I hope these examples get you thinking of your own ‘immersion amplifiers’ so you can make your LN all the more immersive and a joy to read.


Hey, my name's Azuma. I first dove deep into Otaku culture in 2010 and never quite grew out of it. After a million different anime, light novels, manga, and visual novels, I learned a lot about each art form. Knowledge I want to share with you from writing advice to drawing tips. I'm also the Author of two light novels series, Garden of PSI and On Creating the Ultimate Weapon. Happy creating!

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