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Topic: Boring but Essential Characters

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Subject: Boring but Essential Characters
Date Posted: 5/28/2009 6:38 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2009
Posts: 7
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Whenever I go to write a long piece I run into characters that are necessary for the plot line, but that bore me. Does anyone have any advice for getting through sections of writing where you aren't really interested in what is going on, but need it to make the rest of the book work? Or...am I doing something wrong if I'm not interested in certain sections of my own writing?!

 

Thanks!

Date Posted: 5/28/2009 7:00 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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Um if you find it boring then so will everyone else. Thats what I have found when writing something.

How necessary is the information you are trying to give to the readers? Could it be done in a different way?

I think you just need new ways of seeing how to write scenes.

Its hard for me describe without having an example to work with.

Rather then bogging down the reader with a whole page of stuff why not break it up into smaller parts but only if its needed.

Remember we dont need to know if the male character wears boxers or briefs unless he is undressing infront of us.

Date Posted: 5/28/2009 7:58 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2009
Posts: 7
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It isn't necessarily details. A brief example would be a girl who's father works in a law firm, and his job is in jeopardy. The girl is the main character, but some scenes take place within her father's office, and I don't really find law very interesting, though others might? I have read many books where there are sections I am not that into, but the book as a whole is really good anyway.

Date Posted: 5/29/2009 10:49 AM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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As xengab said, if you do not find law interesting, no one else will either (in the context of your story).  When reading, I find nearly anything interesting if the writer is passionate about their subject.  Writing is hard and tangible rewards are few and seldom come along.  Amuse and entertain yourself -  If you are bored, every single person who reads your MS will know it.  If you don't like law, make your character something that interests you on some level - it could be something you find loathsome and hateful, or something you don't know that much about, but has always intrigued you (a nice opportunity for fun research!).  The world is so full of interesting things, why waste your time writing about what doesn't interest you?  In some ways writing is an exploration, you figure things out and make discoveries as you write.  It's loads of fun and very difficult, but engagement in one's own work is not optional.

I have read many books where there are sections I am not that into, but the book as a whole is really good anyway.

This is what's so great about writing our own book - finally a book that is full of what interests you - no boring parts

Edited because I cannot type today.



Last Edited on: 5/29/09 11:52 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/29/2009 11:47 AM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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Meg- do the scenes HAVE to be in his office. could he not call the main character and tell her what is going on? The same impression will get through and would be less boring.

I agree with caviglia, this is your novel it should interest you with most every detail (I did say most and not all). If something does not capture your interest, change the location.  I'm not just talking out my ass on this because that is what I have been told by various authors (via talks or doing a writing class).  YES there are going to tiny amounts of the book that you arent fully and utterly in love with but 98% of it should be. 

There are many ways to convey the message that the main character needs to know that her dad's job is in turmoil IE newspaper articles about the lawfirm going under or shuffling of employee's, he could leave a letter that she just happens to see what at his house (if she does not live with him), he could phone her and tell her what's going on or she could over hear a phone conversation her dad has with his boss.

Date Posted: 5/29/2009 2:19 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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It's funny, hands down, the most successful thing I've ever written, I wrote on a crazily tight deadline.  I wrote incredibly quickly, bringing pages into rehearsal as I finished them.  I just wrote about things I liked, and wrote things that I thought were funny, and that was pretty much it.  I really thought of this play as kind of a throw-away, i.e. fun, but hardly my best work. Of course, this is the play that wound up being published and garnered some of the best reviews of my life. 

I've thought about it a lot, because I've written things that I think are much, much better, that I just labored over.  It might be a case of me loving my problem children best. There might be a breezy, effortless quality in the piece that did really well that appeals to people, I don't know.  Maybe it came out well as I wasn't all over myself, and just wrote it more or less to amuse myself without any big career-oriented stakes attached.  And I was really just writing for myself.

 

Date Posted: 6/15/2009 1:08 PM ET
Member Since: 4/13/2009
Posts: 285
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One way to make stock characters more interesting (to you and to the reader) is to take some unwritten assumptions and turn them around.

For example, let's assume that your lawyer character is politically conservative, Harvard-educated, over-worked portly gentleman who wears a suit to work each day and is tied to his Blackberry.

Typical lawyer, and boring, boring, boring.

But what if he's not politically conservative?  He could be an ex-hippy with a ponytail.  Or maybe he's openly gay - doesn't matter which detail you pick, but try changing one of the "defining characteristics" of this character and see what happens.  How did a ex-hippy end up practicing law here?  How did an openly gay man come to have a daughter?  It provides more backstory and more interest to the character and his scenes.   You don't have to explain all the details in your story (because that can be distracting), but if you think them through, then it will show up in your writing.

good luck!