Sometimes, you gotta do boring things

I’ve read a lot of writing advice over the years, and this weekend I decided to ditch a tenet that I’d previously thought was hard and fast.  You know that philosophy of ‘if you don’t want to write it, then others don’t want to read it’?  That’s the bit I’m talking about.

Let me set the picture.  There are some aspects of my novel that are powering ahead.  They’re mainly about my two protagonists and how they relate to each other, which I find really exciting.  And then there’s the other aspects, otherwise known as the bigger plot.  These are not quite so interesting to me, but are essential vehicles for setting the scene for the emotional life of my protagonists. 

Now, if I followed the ‘if I find it boring to write, readers find it boring to read’ thing, then I wouldn’t write the bits I don’t find as interesting.  But in reality, if I did that, I’d have a book only I’d be interested in!  That would be fine, if I was writing a book just for me.  Which I’m not.

The fact is, sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do and you have to do them well.  This is with writing, as it is with life.  We as writers have to sit down and hone our craft until we can write the things that don’t interest us personally, but are essential for the bigger picture of our book.  If we don’t, then we stall and tread water in one place, without getting anywhere.  Ultimately, everything we write will be much better for it.

So I sat down this weekend and after a couple of false starts and getting thoroughly discouraged by the ‘boring’ chapter I had to write,  I hit my stride.  I feel much better about the chapter now, and have found it wasn’t so boring after all!


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ben Godby
    Sep 26, 2010 @ 23:46:09

    Well, make sure it’s not too boring, haha. I guess, ultimately, only your readers can tell you whether or not it’s a desirable passage. Slog on!



  2. janettedalgliesh
    Sep 29, 2010 @ 12:01:35

    I can’t help but wonder what makes you think that a chapter is going to be inherently boring?

    I’ll be the first to admit how annoying it is sometimes, having to explain things to the reader which are so crystal clear in one’s own mind that the recital of detail seems excruciatingly dull.

    Apparently, on every film he made, the director Alfred Hitchcock knew by the first day of shooting exactly what every shot of the movie would look like. He commented that this made the actual process of shooting frustrating, because in his mind the movie was already made and he felt like he was repeating himself.

    So I wonder whether the reason you think the chapter is one in which you wouldn’t be interested simply because it retells details you’ve already heard in your head?


    • J-A Brocke
      Oct 01, 2010 @ 20:11:49

      No, it’s not that, although I can see how that would be a problem. It’s more that I want to keep following one character’s progress, but need to break it with another scene to allow them enough time to get to where they need to go. The scene isn’t a filler, because it tells you important info. It’s in the bad guy’s camp, which could explain why I’m reluctant to go there!


  3. janettedalgliesh
    Oct 02, 2010 @ 14:25:23

    Oh, that totally makes sense! So it’s not really that the chapter is inherently boring in itself, it’s more that it’s boring by comparison with the progress your other character is making. If it were me in that situation, I know it would trigger my childhood fears of making a decision in case I chose the “wrong thing” and thereby missed out on something possibly more exciting LOL!

    And I can totally relate to not wanting to go to the bad guy’s camp. That just means you’ve successfully created a character nobody wants to be around – maybe that is something to relish.



    • J-A Brocke
      Oct 02, 2010 @ 23:14:51

      I like what you say about the chapter being boring in comparison with the progress my other character is making. That makes sense, and probably sums it up nicely!


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