[— Karen Myers —]
It’s wintertime, there’s a helluva lot of snow on the ground, and my 4WD car is in the shop. So, when it comes time for groceries and the liquor store, we have no alternative but to take our big old Ford F150 pickup truck, with its snow plow attached, down off the mountain and go lurching into town.
My husband has a hard time getting around, so I usually go with him to run in and out of the stores. He does the parking and stays in the car.
It’s hard to turn off the writerly brain a lot of the time, and I’m usually yanked from a writing session to “go run errands”, so I’m typically still writing in my head as we hit the road.
So there we were, trying to find parking along the streets of this small, narrow town (since there’s no getting that vehicle into most Main Street parking lots). He began backing into a slot on the street, and I was impatient to hop out and let him finish that while I started the errand in the store. But, no, he didn’t pause to let me do that — he concentrated on the mechanics of the parking and left me fuming in frustration until he stopped and I could get started.
And then it hit me. I wanted him to leave out the boring bits of the scene and go straight to the action. What a pity we can’t do that in real life.
It’s a reminder that we mustn’t let our own concentration on our clever settings and details intrude on the reader’s attention when it doesn’t move the scene along or advance the plot. No one wants to waste time watching a character park the truck (unless, of course, there’s a clue to be had by it, or a motive revealed, or a doubt raised). There needs to be a solid reason for everything you write, if you can manage it, however temptingly self-indulgence beckons to us.
What boring bits have you removed, and why? And what bits have you beefed up properly and made something of? How did you decide, and how did you do it?