>Tips for Writers: Skip the boring parts


Elmore Leonard, maybe more than most writers, is full of pithy tips. (See this list.) I can’t say I always agree with him, but usually he’s spot on. And one of my favorites is “Skip the boring parts.”
It seems obvious, but it isn’t always obvious when you’re in the middle of writing a story or novel. Your characters are at point A and you need to get them to point C so you write about their trip through B. That may be perfectly fine writing, and it may also be necessary for you, mentally, to know what happens to the characters as they pass through B, but unless there’s a good reason to show the journey—tension-raising obstacles along the way, maybe, or some other relevant plot point—you can skip. So, in revision, cut it. Or, in the writing process, if you know it’s not needed, hit Enter twice (what we used to call a double carriage return), leave the extra space to show the passage of time or change in location, and move on.
Of course, that’s not the only example of what might be boring and could be left out. Mundane dialogue—Hello. How are you? I’m fine, thanks for asking. What about you?—also needs to come out. Does it advance the plot or reveal character? If not, cut it. Same goes for other bits of business, description, and even some action. I’m currently working on revisions to a novel manuscript, and I’m reminding myself of this constantly, stripping away the boring parts.

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