I got some awesome writing advice last week: skip the boring parts. I’ve been always trying to write in a mostly completely linear fashion. But so often I get stuck or bored, and end up starting a new story. I’ve known there were people out there who wrote their stories out of order, but that didn’t seem like a good idea to me; seemed like it would be too easy to create discontinuities if you end up changing your mind about plot details. But I missed the main advantage of skipping: staying interested and excited in your own work. After all, when I think about writing a story, my mind jumps to the climactic arguments or the more interesting decisions the characters make. Makes more sense to write those scenes first and get them out of your head while they still excite you, and then building up to them can be easier and more interesting. You can edit them later if you need to. And it’s not like you have to skip huge important chunks. (If there are huge important chunks that have no interesting parts worth writing, then maybe they shouldn’t be in the story anyway?) Just skipping a couple introductory paragraphs can be enough to get the mind interested.

So a few days ago I finally finished another short story rough draft called The Final Dream of Samuel Shadows, and skipping around helped a lot. I’m looking forward to trying it with some of my other partly-written short stories, and eventually my novel, which I hope I can start in a month or two, whenever I can finish the plotting and planning of it…

Oh, and if you don’t mind some blatant self-promotion, I also got a little mention for my first published short story on this blog post reviewing December 2010 DSF stories… ego stroke…

A new moon in the sky marks the coming of a new Wizard King in “Maker of the Twenty-First Moon” by Sean Patrick Hannifin (debut 12/15). The wizard kings of the past were all tyrants. Jonlen and Slip have suspected Torkwill of wanting to be the next. A legend speaks of a wizard king’s only moment of vulnerability, on the night they make a moon.

“Maker” is a story with two sides. Torkwill wants to make the world a better place and shares the event with his son. Jonlen and Slip wish to take no chances, breaking into the wizard’s home to drag him into the forest. They refuse to heed the wizard’s warnings, Jonlen sure they are nothing but a bluff. He wants to make sure history is not repeated, even if he is the catalyst for past mistakes.

This story is rather good. It had an outcome I predicted but it was never obvious. Torkwill is convincing as a man trying to save his own life with Jonlen’s perspective. Not too bad.


2 Comments

LanthonyS · April 20, 2011 at 11:57 AM

The only difficulty is deciding what’s boring. Sometimes boring is really meat, or foundation. For example Ian McEwan’s “Atonement” is full of what you might call boring parts (it has been sometimes called “too long for its content”), but it would be skeletal without them.

Congratulations on the story getting published and reviewed!

S P Hannifin · April 20, 2011 at 3:07 PM

I think your subconscious will decide it for you… the difficulty is when you think a boring part is necessary, and you either have to slog your way through it, or find some way to make it interesting for yourself. What’s boring and what’s not will always be subjective, so readers may or may not agree. Like in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, there are some scenes that just go on and on and don’t do anything story wise, which some people like and some people think: “Uh… what the heck? Enough with the spaceships!”

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