Wonder of all wonders…

Listening to: O.A.R., “That Was a Crazy Game of Poker” (Ahh…college memories).

I actually got some writing done last night. I think I just needed to get past a scene that was becoming incredibly boring and dragging out forever.

Sometimes, when the words aren’t flowing and the scene just seems stuck, you have to ask yourself why. Is it because the whole thing is so dull, you’re boring the crap out of yourself? If so, that doesn’t bode well for any future readers. Skip to the next scene, which hopefully will be interesting. Hopefully. If you find yourself skipping scene after scene after scene, then one of the following must be true:

A.) The problem isn’t each scene. It could be the book–maybe its core idea, or one or more characters, maybe the themes you’re exploring. Is one of your main characters, or even a secondary, too vanilla? Do they just seem…blah?

  1. Core idea: Either scrap it–mercilessly, tearlessly–or add some aspect that catches your attention and keeps you interested.

    To find this, think of what keeps you reading other writers’ works: Is it the Will They/Won’t They dynamic (Well known contemporary pop culture references: think Ross & Rachael, Mulder & Scully, Jim & Pam)? Is it inherent danger–knowing full well that the main character or someone s/he cares about is in imminent peril, even when maybe s/he has no inkling of the danger? Is it betrayal, and the dynamics that come into play in a relationship when Person A has betrayed Person B, but Person B doesn’t know it yet? Whatever keeps you motivated to read will interest at least some other readers. Throw one or two of these things in, and see if it works.

  2. Characters: Add an interesting personality quirk to one of your characters. Maybe they’re socially inept, and this causes all kinds of awkward but funny situations. Maybe they have some lesser-known, fascinating medical or psychological problem. Maybe they’re freaking psychic. For this, look into your own life: what aspects of your friends’ personalities keep them interesting to you? Also, once again, what elements of a character’s personality, in your favorite novel, made them compelling?

    Alternately, try telling the story from a different point of view. Maybe a secondary character, who is less a player in and more an observer of your story’s action, might have more interesting insights and a different way of telling the story that will make it more intriguing. Maybe you’re writing in first person, whereas multiple third person points of view might give the story more depth. Or vice versa, of course. Experiment until you find the method that suits both you and the story.

  3. Themes: What themes are you exploring? Love/Hate? Greed, be it for money, power, or adulation? Betrayal? Religion? Fate vs. Free Will? The inherent dichotomy between the supernatural and the natural? Growing up, becoming the person you’re meant to be? Ask yourself if these are things that interest you. If not, scrap ’em, and try something that does keep your attention. Once again, if something about your writing or your project is boring you, what’s going to keep potential readers invested in the story?

B.) The second possibility is–to be perfectly blunt–your own writing. Are you striving to make each description paint a picture, or are you just doing it halfway? Are your word choices and the phrases that pop into your mind at odd moments delighting you? The bottom line is, if you can’t entertain and enthrall yourself, then something is wrong. Challenge yourself to be better. Make every word count.

The bottom line is, it may seem selfish to only think of yourself when writing. But, at the time of creation, your emotions are the only ones that count, and paying attention to them will pay off in the long run. If you’re bored, any future readers will be as well. If you’re fascinated and can’t wait for that one scene when everything blows the frick up, then there’s hope for you.