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The Boring Chapter

HalfEatenSurprise

Registered Member
There are not many books that don't involve one (or more) of these, or so I've found.
A chapter that seems to drag the plot down.

There's been the odd one that I've read where each chapter has managed to keep me engrossed, simply because it keeps the plot zipping forward. That's perhaps a preference of mine, the story has got to keep moving, too much attention to the scenery is unwarranted to my taste, I just want to know what is happening, and what will happen next. The character can unfold with the action, but lingering onto a seemingly arbitrary point for too long will bore me.

Now I am in a predicament, with my own writing I find it hard to keep the plot going. Or there will be a moment or two in the narrative where it seems I have to slow down and lay down a few points. These seem to hamper the story, and worst of all they are an absolute nightmare to write.

I like to transfer the enjoyment I reap when writing, to what I expect will be received when read, hence when I come to the chapter that is like this, that I don't particularly enjoy, yet have to overcome to get to the bones of the novel, it really puts me off. I have deleted a book I was working on because of this, got halfway through the damned chapter and thought the story on a whole was shit. (It might not have been, maybe I over-reacted).

E.G.
My current novel, which on a whole I see as a decent story, has currently become stuck on a bastard of a plot segment where I've got to try and instil some sort of realism into a somewhat ridiculous scenario. The scene which involves little chatter due to the pre-occupation of one of my main characters means I've got to work through it, setting up the action whilst trying to prolong the scene.
It's very tempting to cut the chapter in half and get it over with as quickly as possible, yet if I do that I know it will not sound correct, and the character's character will not be conveyed properly. This will mean I only have to address it later, or leave it out completely, which (considering the plot) will mean the things he is set to do later will seem like utter lunacy, or will generally make no sense.
Hence, I have to somehow write a slowly evolving scene and keep it interesting. It is not easy. -- This is an example of a chapter where I believe the fannying around I need to do, in order to create the desired effect (basis for character motivations, the general action, the tone, the dialogue which is limited due to the situation) I will end up creating a chapter that is not very strong, yet the matter within is vital for the story. --- It is very annoying.

I was wondering if others find their writing to be like this? Where a chapter holds you up, perhaps not because it's boring, but because it isn't a major part of the story, yet is relevant.

Does anyone else find this to be a problem?
Does anyone have tips for getting through the boring chapters?
How do you keep a story zipping along?

Does that make sense?
Thoughts?
 

Dekzper

Registered Member
It makes total sense! :nod: And yes, the writer should be the reader too. I learned that lesson last summer from a retired publisher and she taught me what she calls "sprinkling". I was working on rewrites for chapter 21 and discovered that I needed to add a ton of info about real spaceflight. I got tons of info from the Nasa Human Spaceflight site and astronauts logs and even talked to a space biophysicist. Liftoff and achieving orbit sounded very real BUT I hated reading that chapter when it was finished! :stare: It was worse than trigonometry! Well, she didn't like it either. So I decided to have one of my 2 main characters get interested in spaceflight in chapter 2. In each chapter, he asks important questions about it and, since he's majoring in physics in college, it fits in the storyline. After "sprinkling" that (in very small doses) into each chapter, I rewrote chapter 21 and it was exciting and more focused on the plot and the action! Since the reader already picked up on the bits of spaceflight info (in quick quips), I could build the chapter with just the action.
I do that a lot in my writing now. I sprinkle little bits of scenery - and bits of info that support later chapters - into the dialogue while I write. The scenery supports the mood and gives the reader backdrops they can identify (especially unusual items). It's a little more difficult to sprinkle an upcoming character in but I've done that too. One thing that helps with that is casual sightings of the character and rumors. I can write "He had seen the old man before and simply dismissed him as one of the many derelicts making haste from the small, yet hostile, community. Yet the man made little haste and his movements seemed all too well planned." Later, I can add another odd sighting of the old man. When the old man is finally and formerly introduced, the reader will already have some idea of who he is and what his habits are. Maybe even more. But since it's only 2-3 sentences each time, it doesn't get the reader distracted much from the main storyline.
Oh, and I think you did over-react. A book is like a recipe. If it doesn't work, the best thing is to change it till it does. :) And you're def right, never have a boring chapter. My rule is "If I dont like reading a chapter, find out what needs to be sprinkled into the book, sprinkle only as much as the reader really needs to know (in very little doses), then rewrite the chapter without all the info (since the reader already has it at that point)." That lets me keep the action going fast and keeps me focused!
 

HalfEatenSurprise

Registered Member
Awesome Deksper, never actually been informed of the 'sprinkling' method. I might have even done this before without even thinking about it as a proper method. I have managed to get a good way into this chapter I'm on, and I think I will be able to pass it, although I do reckon a little 'sprinkling' may be in order just to give it a little bit of a punch.

Although, the only problem is, that in this book I'm writing now, I am trying to keep the mystery of everyone and everything to the utmost. Sprinkling will have to be very subtle if I'm to achieve the desired effect. Yet, I think I might just be able to pull it off. So thanks for the tip. I shall see what I can conjure up. Kudos again. From me.
 

Dekzper

Registered Member
Kudos to you too for that awesome short story! :) I learn a lot by reading other peoples work, especially when it's that well written. And yeah, it's really a balance to try and keep the mystery sometimes. I had a very important character (Kyle) that needed to be a total surprise. When I sprinkled him in the first time, it kept the action but crashed the mystery. Then I decided to sprinkle him in BUT make the reader think he was somebody else. When I was finished, he seemed to be a secondary character that belonged in the book BUT for another reason (I misled the reader a little). When he finally got the spotlight, it was a surprise to discover who & what he really was! :D
Well, that works okay with normal characters but I am still having probs with a secondary VIP character that's very animal and not very human. Hmmmm.... I still needa work more on that one.
 

dDave

Well-Known Member
V.I.P.
What I do before I write is outline the entire story. That way I'm not lost for what exactly I should write. It's much less painful to outline it really quick and then write true to your outline. At least that works for me.

Anyway we all experience writers block and it can be a very hard thing to overcome. Really what I think causes writers block is the slow or challenging to write chapters such as the one you've described.

I would say just finish it but obviously you've run into some obstacles with that. Exactly how complicated is it?
 

Smelnick

Creeping On You
V.I.P.
I used to always find that my stories would get boring while writing descriptions of the characters. Or rather, describing the scenarios and stuff. What I learned to do though, to keep it less dull, is to tell the story in a way that reveals aspects of the characters and the scenery. That way, i'm not forcing the imagery down the readers throat. Instead, they get an idea of what their like and they can form their own images.
 

Dekzper

Registered Member
dDave: My prob was that my first outline was fail but I already wrote the book (and didn't like it). So then I had to change the outline to make the story better and then do rewrites. I worked on it all summer but i couldn't do much anyway since i fell outa the tree and broke my left arm anyway. And no way i could play videogames with 1 hand.
Smelnick: Yeah, that's what i think too. I always imagine things that aren't in a book I'm reading. That's why I just like to sprinkle in little things like hair, maybe eyes, but not bore the reader with too many details. Readers are prolly like me and decide how things look even if they aren't told everything. And besides, if I say someone's fast then they'll already know they must be slim so I dont have to say that. One book I didn't like reading was "Grapes of Wrath". Steinbeck described every tiny detail about everybody and everything and all I wanted was to find out what was happening, not what color somebody's shoes were or why flies liked to be on screen doors! LOL!
 

HalfEatenSurprise

Registered Member
Dave:
Obstacles are mainly with the actual scenario. I have addressed the main character briefly in a previous chapter as being very rich, and pretty snobby with it. In this chapter he has devised a plot to chat up a girl that he and a troupe of others are betting to snag. He is desperate, because the bet is ample... Also, the worst thing is that my character is also set as a sore-loser type. As in, he can't stand losing. I've intended to address this aspect of his character in this chapter, yet I don't know, myabe it's my own ideas, but I find the whole thing a bit tedious, and don't think it will report very well to a reader. In the chapter he goes to a bar that he know this girl will be in, and has taken an unwitting friend (unaware of the bet) along with him. He is pre-occupied with the bet, hence he pretty much ignores his friend, and so not much dialogue is present. It's a shame, because I work better with dialogue, but it doesn't seem right in this chapter. --- Saying this, since the creation of this thread I have managed to write a rough draft of my chapter. I think it is adequate as it is, I will go back when I have finished more of the story, and have a little more content to work around.

I find it impossible to outline the entire story before I write. I know what my story is. I just write as I go, working out what is happening as I do it. Then I will go back and tweak and rewrite as is fitting.

Smelnick: I agree with that sentiment. One way I usually keep the plot nice and active is with dialogue. The problem with the odd chapter (like this one) is that there is no need for much dialogue. That's where I get stuck, unless the prose is of serious matter to the entire novel, or if something remarkable is happening. The guy chatting up a girl in this chapter I'm doing is not that thrilling, yet it is vital, seeing as it goes along with my general plot. --- It's really annoying though. I mean, the guy in this chapter is a main character, yet the main character of this entire story that I'm doing (might end up being two books yet) won't show up for a long long time yet. And I like this guy I've made up, I can't wait to write him in. Meh. Dunna worry, I'll get there.

Anyway. Dialogue?

Do you have problems with that, or not? For some, I hear, it can be very tricky territory.
 
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Dekzper

Registered Member
Dialogue is def tricky for me. A lot of what I write is narrative and when I do dialogue I wanna be sure everybody sounds diff. I have a big family and lots of friends so that helps some. Also, I want my characters to sound real. That's why I make my characters like my cool friends since I kind of understand them. But enemy characters are tuff so I usually have to get ideas by reading about other people, usually in the news.
 
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