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Boring bit? (1 Viewer)

Joker

Senior Member
I have a bit in my novel where Corrit goes on a wild goose chase, searching some places his subject usually hangs out, and doesn't find him. That's it. Boring, but necessary for the plot. Any ideas how to handle this without it being incredibly wasteful of words?
 

robertn51

Friends of WF
Boring, but necessary for the plot. Any ideas how to handle this without it being incredibly wasteful of words?

1. The reader doesn't know it's boring, they'll be expecting it to be part of the plot. (And it is, in a way, no?) You might think it's boring, but they don't.

So play into that, make it not boring by encountering some wild characters or some danger. Add some conflict with the things that are already there in the places. (Like maybe having Silver along is a breach of The Rules.)

Something there might know where the subject is and react. Roust/chase them. Something there might already know through the grapevine that Corrit is looking and behave badly, either mislead or stonewall. (Misleading adds a layer, and even possibly a loop, to the search, too.)

Also, don't have empty-handed Corrit give up, have him (when the plot's timing needs are met) be forced to stop -- time's up, battery dead, parking meter, old enemy hospitalizes him, Mom calls, old flame Mata-Hari him, Silver is hacked/disassembled -- before his expected search ends.

2. Any existing subplots that might interrupt or intertwine with the search? By using an existing and familiar thread as cover, the reader might not feel the delay at all.

3. Might the plot delay itself be turned into an interesting problem? Corrit must perform a certain believably important act by a certain time or his case (or his involvement in the case) evaporates. This might be part of the search, too. Like his subject has booked transit and is skipping. Adds a little frisson to things and it is perfectly OK to end with a frustrating fail.

4. What words are wasteful?

[2021-08-19 0826]
 

Joker

Senior Member
Spoiler alert for those interested!



We good?

So this is all just misdirection by Nyssa. She's sending Corrit on this wild goose chase because she's just had Hau murder Wilbur, and she wants to maintain plausible deniability by not sending Corrit to their property right away.

Since you mentioned Silver, this is where I plan to introduce her, somehow. But I'm not quite sure how I'm gonna do that yet. Maybe she saves his bacon from some hostile locals? Lotta anti-vespian racism.

I might just go back and edit some words while I'm waiting for this to click.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
Okay, you have some try/fail cycles for Corrit to go through before getting to the goal. Stories aren't really very interesting if the character gets it right on the first try anyway. So rather than thinking, "I'm writing the boring part" maybe consider it like this note that I scribbled down from Writing Excuses:
  • "Yes, BUT..." - The character technically succeeds or thinks they've succeeded BUT something else has gone wrong.
  • "No, AND..." - The character fails and that failure deepens the mess.
  • Characters should fail spectacularly.
So what?

Goose chases can be fun, they can have some fizz, be a story-within-a-story or a story of their own. A comedy of errors or an adventure of effort and at every turn your reader expects that they'll find who they're seeking only to feel the same frustration as your character when they've got to go look somewhere else.
 

EmmaSohan

WF Veterans
I suspect one of the most valuable insights we can have about our own book is "This is boring." Of course, then we have to fix it. And the standard advice is to eliminate it. But like you said, sometimes it's needed.

That can be an interesting problem. Like robertn51 said, you can add something to the scene. I will say, if you can do humor the possibilities are endless. I always say add a cat, because then the character can talk to the cat, but really it's anything -- little stray girl following him, thunderstorm, a pebble in his shoe that he does not have time to remove, and on and on. Everything he sees is a metaphor?

I once fixed a boring scene by using an odd grammar (all fragments).

Sometimes a solution is just to shorten things. I find that a little shortening can go a long way.

You can also sometimes change it to a retrospective report, which still needs something to alleviate boredom, but that can make it easier to shorten and add other elements.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
I have a bit in my novel where Corrit goes on a wild goose chase, searching some places his subject usually hangs out, and doesn't find him. That's it. Boring, but necessary for the plot. Any ideas how to handle this without it being incredibly wasteful of words?
I think, as robertn51 says, you can use it as an opportunity to revisit earlier characters/plot threads etc. Have them crop up and cause issues. The fact of them having occurred before lends a nice structure to the plot, and you never know where any of them might lead.
 

Joker

Senior Member
I think, as robertn51 says, you can use it as an opportunity to revisit earlier characters/plot threads etc. Have them crop up and cause issues. The fact of them having occurred before lends a nice structure to the plot, and you never know where any of them might lead.

Hmm. This is what I've come up with so far.

Instead of Corrit going along, he enlists the help of a close friend/occasional bandmate of Corrit's, Ralan. Corrit figured out that Wilbur had stayed at Ralan's a few nights back, but departed the next morning without telling him anything. It's at around this time that Nyssa figures out where Wilbur is and has Hau murder him.

I don't even know myself if Ralan was bribed into helping Nyssa, or if Nyssa got lucky that Wilbur went back to their property. I'm also not sure if I want to know the answer to this. Sometimes leaving things a mystery is fun.

So what having Ralan tag along can accomplish is not only having some dialogue instead of Corrit just wandering about, giving Wilbur some more backstory, it would give the reader plenty of ambigious lines to agonize over after realizing Nyssa was scheming this all along.
 
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