1. Kayla Hicks
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    Kayla Hicks New Member

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    Slow spots in storylines.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Kayla Hicks, May 10, 2016.

    I'm struggling with being too boring when filling in the gaps between major events in my story. Does anyone have any ideas on how to fix that?
     
  2. PBrady
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    PBrady Active Member

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    You need to judge why these bits are boring.
    Do they contain lost of information that you think the reader needs? Infodumps.
    Do they contain detail of the characters every day life? Ephemera
    Are they large portions of descriptive narrative?

    Depending on the nature of your tale, they may be worthwhile components.

    Not every story needs to be an action led series of events.

    With not much to go on it is difficult to recommend a remedy, however if your problem is infodumping then have confidence in your reader to be able to piece information that is scattered through out the story. For example, we don't need to know everything about a character in one great dollop. Spread it out.

    An example would help.
     
  3. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Join the club. That's what love story subplots are for.
     
  4. DeadMoon
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    DeadMoon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have read a bit on micro-tension (a concept by Donald Maass) If you have the time it is worth looking up and reading a few blogs and an interview or two n you-tube. I would like to get his book sometime, he seems to have some good advice.
     
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  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Details, details!

    Why do you have to fill gaps? If those events are completely boring AND irrelevant to the plot, why depict them at all?

    If they're completely boring but relevant to the plot, they can almost certainly be made interesting, but I'd need details/examples.
     
  6. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Putting my spin on what others have said, maybe there are three elements involved in maintaining the reader's interest: plot-relevance, boringness and longwindedness.

    As ChickenFreak said, if it's not relevant to the plot and it's boring, skip it. If it is relevant to the plot and you can't make it more interesting (again, as ChickenFreak says, you probably can...), just explain it as briefly as possible to get the job done and move on to more fertile material.

    Bear in mind that longwindedness can turn interesting material boring (IMO). I struggled through that 'Council of Elrond' chapter of LotR for this reason, even though it was plot-relevant and initially interesting.

    Another point is pacing. You might actually want to have slow moments in your story to temper the full-throttle moments; to give the reader a moment to catch their breath. The extent you'll want to do this probably varies by genre and particular story. But if you use language well, you can establish a moment that feels interminably slow but is actually only a few sentences long!
     
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  7. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    I'm with ChickenFreak. If it's boring, there is a possibility it doesn't belong. If there is a need to describe plot developments between major events, then you need to do so in a way that heightens tension, adds layers to the stakes of the story, and develops your characters further. Conflict on every page. Flog your MC. Kill his family. Make him WEEP and we will weep with him.

    Also consider cyborg uprisings. Those are NEVER BORING.

    Best of luck.
     
  8. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    @Kayla Hicks Try this exercise: Take the longest book that you have read. I am guessing it is around 500-600 pages. Now clip all the fluff that was long, tedious, and boring. Once you have done that, read the story again without the extra fluff and padding. If it still makes sense and does not change the story after you chopped out 100-200+ pages, then what have we learned darling? That people have a knack for throwing in a bunch of extra padding to an otherwise good story. Now that we have done this little bit of practice, we go back to our own work, and repeat the process. The first time is the hardest, I know it will sting a bit. But it must be done for the better in the long run. And if it ever gets too hard to crop out something have a beer, and remind yourself: It doesn't actually progress anything within the story it self. And save all trimmings just in case there is something that is important in all that fluff. Now if this occurs dear, then you put it back in, like a kidney you took out by accident and put it back in. Just make it fit and reattach it correctly or all will not be so good. There you have it the crude way to surgically save your story from too much fluff. Now have a beer darling and start looking for that which does not belong and cut it out to save your Story. Good luck, I hope you don't lose too much of it in the process. :supergrin:

    By the way I am only offering up my suggestion based upon what I have learned, but am in no means an expert on such things. :superlaugh:

    Here is a cute little video, that may help (or not) but hey it's cute!:superlaugh:
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2016
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  9. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    Two methods:

    1) Time skips are your friend. If nothing's interesting's happening, just go for, "Two uneventful days passed, and ..."

    2) Add stuff that's not boring. My current project had some blank spots so I thought "What new thing could I add into these spots?" and ended up tying some of them together to make a shiny new subplot.

    But keep in mind that relieving tension by letting two days pass by without anything happening isn't very effective (sure the characters had two days of nothing going on, but to the reader, the previous action still just happened), and you don't want your subplots to derail the main action. In my example, it's an urban fantasy story with a central theme of defying fate/destiny, and I filled the gaps with some supernatural harbingers of doom - a banshee, the Black Shuck, an ominous fortune. Stuff that'd contribute to the atmosphere, allude to the theme, and contribute to the MC's growing fear and paranoia, and encounters that would be interesting and tense/scary (hopefully!) for the reader while still basically just buying time before the climax.

    Current story doesn't really allow for time skips, but in a previous one I totally skipped through a entire season by just cutting after the previous big event and then outlining what happened until the lead-in to the next one - characters settling into the new routine, talking briefly about how they passed the time and got to know each other. You don't want to do that a LOT (show don't tell etc) but this was a more slow-paced story and filling in a whole season with little events and resolutions would have made it drag into tedium. You have to figure out what works best for your story overall, and what works best for you story in the applicable moment.

    Hopefully that's helpful.
     
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  10. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    You might consider reading Dwight V. Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer, specifically the section on Sequel. a sequel—in Swain's parlance—is the glue that sits between Scenes (he has an interesting definition of 'scene' too) and keeps the reader interested enough to get from one to the other.

    I guarantee you won't be sorry. It's exactly what you're looking for.
     

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