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 >>

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