I recently went to the Palais Garnier and saw a ballet choreographed by Angelin Preljocaj. (Check out the video clip in this link to see the most passionate ballet kiss ever.) I enjoyed the entire evening, which had a mix of traditional sections along with darker sections starring the ominous "gardeners." There was only one dance in the middle of the show that I found to be particularly boring. The women were dead and dressed in black and slowly rolling around on the floor. It brought up a concept I have in storytelling that is not very well favored by other writers I know. I argue that, in order to make a reader (or viewer or listener) feel satisfied, one often needs to include a boring center section. The crab only tastes good if you have to dig it out of its shell.
The knee jerk reaction that most writers will say is no. They'll argue that nothing in your story should be boring. Even if you slow the pace, it has to remain interesting and engaging. Everything has to be good. But is that really true?
In everything I have experienced that I find satisfying: earning my Ph.D., hiking Mt. Whitney, finishing my first novel, everything has had its tedious middle section, that horrible time when you think the goal is impossible to reach, when you consider giving up. I'd argue that without those bad times, the good feeling I got upon finishing wouldn't have been so good.
Reading a book, at least for me, brings about a sense of satisfaction. I'm always just a little proud of myself when I make it from front cover to back cover, even for a short book. The task seems even more worthwhile if there was a section in a good book that I found to be particularly slow. And, if you have other friends who have also read the book, isn't that difficult section the one that you end up discussing the most? "I loved the beginning and the end, but, dude, those hundred pages about horse genealogy really dragged" (wink, wink).
Notice I'm actually talking about bad, boring writing. I'm not talking about well-written slow scenes that balance out fast-paced action scenes. We'd probably never intentionally put boring sections into our own stories, but chances are, at least in the first draft, there's already something in the middle of the story that could use a little sparkle. What if we ended up leaving that dud section alone? Does it give the reader that feeling of accomplishment when they get past it? Does it maybe enhance the rest of the book by setting up a contrast and allowing the reader to realize how hard the task of writing actually is? I'm guessing writers will never strive to keep anything in the book that they find bad, but I'm saying maybe bad isn't such a bad thing, served in small portions.