Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Make it not boring

A post at Book View Cafe: Flying by the Seat of Your Pants

Since a pantser has no plan and no outline, you have to have a clear vision. Not necessarily of where the work is going to go. But you have to feel, clearly, what the work has to be like. You need to discern when it’s slipping away from your vision. Are the characters talking too much? Shut them up. … Is it boring? … Do anything you have to, to make it not boring.

Good advice!

I’m currently reading Fire With Fire by Charles Gannon. I keep almost stopping and do-no-finishing it because I hit a section where people are talking about political maneuvering and I … yep … get bored. Then, just before I stop, something less boring starts to happen and I go on with the book after all.

This is despite Gannon’s tendency to do “skip scenes” where he jumps over a few months or some indeterminate period of time. That ought to be where the boring parts happen. But too often we get right down into the political nitty gritty, and I don’t care.

There are authors who can write political maneuvering in a compelling way. Genevieve Valentine comes to mind here, with Persona and Icon. Or, hey, CJC, obviously. Nobody can make me read political maneuvering like CJ Cherryh. But Gannon is not, so far, one of those people.

A lot of talking doesn’t have to be boring, but of course often it is. If you’ve got an example of an author who can maintain the reader’s interest through a long talky scen, or who perhaps doesn’t quite manage to pull it off, drop that in the comments. I’m betting there really aren’t too many who can do it.

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4 Comments Make it not boring

  1. Robert

    Steven Brust comes to mind, particularly for The Phoenix Guards, and its sequel(s). But apparently that style of writing isn’t for everyone, though I loved it.

  2. Elaine T

    My go- to example of a long talky scene that is interesting is from the Master, JRRT, Council of Elrond. All talk and summary and (for me) riveting.

    GGK does it well, too. There was a fair amount of that sort of thing in Arbonne , which I reread not that long ago.

    Brust doesn’t work for me, so I can’t opine on him.

    Sabrina Chase of Seqouyah trilogy had some political manueverings in that work that weren’t boring.

    i guess I don’t notice, or remember the ones who do it badly. I’m sure I’ve read them, I just can’t think of any.

  3. Meera

    Neal Stevenson is good for this. Absolute door-stopper trilogies and novels; but the characters are so interesting and filled with outlandish and outrageous historical events/technologies/speculative stuff that I still keep reading

  4. Mary Catelli

    Tolkien has a lot of talk. It helps that the characters talk like people in a culture where you are taught to tell tales.

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