Post image for Stash, Trash or Refresh: The Ultimate Guide to Dealing with Boring In-Between Story Parts

Today’s post is written by Alex Limberg.

In a thrilling murder mystery, your detective has just found out that the villain and his partner in crime will be meeting in the abandoned slaughterhouse. The scene before and the scene after are packed with suspense. But how does your protagonist pass the two days until the showdown? Will you show him brushing his teeth and going to the toilet? There is just nothing happening!

This post will give you a practical roadmap for how to make the in-between sexy.

(Also, because I know excess length in stories is often hard to detect for the writer himself, you can download a free goodie here or at the end of this post to check your story for superfluous parts and any other imaginable weakness.)

Here are the essential steps to turn an annoying appendix of your story into a narrative goldmine:

1. Preferably Trash It

Your first choice should always be to get rid of any in-betweens that don’t advance your plot. To show your protagonist getting out of bed, showering and preparing his breakfast would slow your story down ridiculously, destroy its rhythm and bore the boots off your readers.

There is a storytelling rule that says, “Get into the scene at the latest possible moment and out at the earliest possible moment.” You can observe this rule in meticulous action in screenplays and movies. Filmmakers in particular can’t afford to bore their audience for even one second. With the ultra-short attention span of today’s music video culture, viewers will just cold-bloodedly switch channels.

However, sometimes you will have your very own reasons to show an additional scene: You want to expand the character, display her habits or show the passage of time, convey boredom or slow down the rhythm on purpose, go deeper with realism in your story, etc. There are a million possible motives.

Should you decide to hang on to your scene, keep it entertaining with one or more of the following techniques: click to continue reading >>


Here’s the Type of Hate Mail Bloggers Get …

Thumbnail image for Here’s the Type of Hate Mail Bloggers Get …

Over several years of blogging, I’ve received some interesting letters from people. And by interesting I mean rude. These are not written to offer friendly constructive criticism or to politely disagree with me. They’re written to get a reaction, but I usually have neither the time nor inclination to give these people what they want. The following letter, for example, arrived […]

Read the full article →

The Duolingo Guide to Writing Productivity

Thumbnail image for The Duolingo Guide to Writing Productivity

One thing I love about Canada is the opportunity for my children to receive a free bilingual education through the French Immersion program available at many public schools. Some say, “You’ll never use French unless you want to work for the government or be a French teacher,” but actually, I’m not worried about whether my kids use their French […]

Read the full article →

Literary Journal Seeks “Features Editor” & “Fiction Director”

Thumbnail image for Literary Journal Seeks “Features Editor” & “Fiction Director”

UPDATE: Please note that both of these positions have now been filled.  Many of you know I’m the managing editor of an online literary magazine that has taken off quite nicely over the past couple of years. Well, our team at Compose Journal has a couple of exciting opportunities available at the moment: we’re looking for a features […]

Read the full article →

I Dumped My S.M.A.R.T. Writing Goals, and This Is What Happened

Thumbnail image for I Dumped My S.M.A.R.T. Writing Goals, and This Is What Happened

It’s a new year: a good time for change, for adopting new writing habits, for setting goals. Haven’t we heard, probably for decades now, that the best way to get things done is to set S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals, and write them down? My husband is one of those business-y types who loves to rib me about […]

Read the full article →

Your Free Trial of The Author Accelerator Book-Coaching Program

I’m so excited today to be able to share with you this 30-minute video session with book coach Jennie Nash, and to be part of a special offer she’s extending to readers of Write It Sideways: a free week’s trial of her new book-coaching program, Author Accelerator. Jennie and I first connected years ago when […]

Read the full article →