There are a million things I do in my day-to-day life that are boring. They’re just not noteworthy. I have to drive to school to drop off the kids, clean the dishes, odds and ends, just like everyone else.
Getting in my car and driving to the doctor’s office is on auto-pilot. It’s not something you pay more attention to than you have to, and most of us won’t even remember the drive if it’s a place you drive often enough. Now, if on the way to my doctor’s office, someone in a mask holding a bag of loot from a bank heist jumps into my car and orders me to drive, and throws me into the middle of a police chase – well, that’s noteworthy. That would definitely make it into the story, in fact, it probably is the story.
Working on my wip, I notice the points I get a little stuck, that I have to write through, are the transitions. You have to get your characters from point A to point B. Often, you can skip the middle. Your reader doesn’t need to see them driving to the next destination. Sometimes skipping over the interim is awkward, it leaves your reader a little in the dark because they don’t know how they got from this scene to that scene. Most of the time, this can be cleared up in a simple sentence or paragraph, though.
The thing I keep reminding myself is that every sentence I write needs to serve a purpose to THE STORY. I bold that because it’s something I need to remember. My writing doesn’t need to serve me as the author, but the story as a whole. When I get stuck at those transitional scenes, for me the biggest question is, “What purpose does this serve to the story?” It might flesh out the character or propel the plot – the best scenes will do both. But if all I’m doing is trying to get from this bit of action to that bit of action, it’s probably going to get cut. It doesn’t need to be there.
Novels don’t work like real life and it’s something that I need to constantly remind my own self of. If I look back at the work and know that I’d skim all that bullshit if I was reading someone else’s novel, I know I need to cut it in mine.
So how about you? How do you get your characters from point A to point B? Do you write it all out and cut some later? Do you not worry about transitions and just write from scene to scene? And do you ever get stuck trying to figure out how to get these people from here to there without either boring or confusing your audience?