Happy Monday, everyone!
But, first, some links to celebrate Charles Dickens' 200th birthday--which would be all the more impressive, except that the characters in my novel are well over 300.
Here is a link to Dickens' 1st draft of A Christmas Carol, complete with hand edits.
Here is an NPR article on the matter.
Okay, now back to me. I finished the first draft of Cyberlama this weekend, which really is just more of a psychological barrier than anything else. I had been stuck on the last chapter for a couple of weeks, and the only way I could finish it and move on was to write something that will likely be completely replaced in a few days. Still, I feel like I can move forward. Soo-ey!
I immediately started to read through the story so that I could start shaping it, and the first thing I noticed was that the pacing gets steadily faster as I make progress toward the end. The first three chapters take about 50 pages, while the remaining 15 chapters take about 150. I look at the later scenes and they don't seem that rushed. But I think what happened was that I only hit the dramatic highs of the story and didn't take care to include the lows, the breathers.
Thinking about this takes me back to some posts I had done months if not years ago about the necessity of slow--dare I say boring--scenes in a book. I think the automatic response is that no scene in the book should be boring, or that boring is too subjective a concept to really discuss. But, I somehow keep returning to the same conclusion that a book needs to have at least one boring scene for me to feel like I've gone through a long journey with it.
The best analogy I can think of is a hike I used to do while I was in the Boy Scouts. Every Monday we would go up about 3.5 miles to Heninger Flats in the San Gabriel Mountains. It was a nice hike because it wasn't very far, and we used it to stay conditioned for the longer hikes we would take once a month.
I've always been fairly good at moving uphill. I love stairs, and the Heninger Hike was just steep enough to make things fun for me. The only part I hated was at about 2.7 miles, when there was a stretch of really steep switchbacks. The scenery at that part of the hike was boring, as there were no trees or pretty rocks. It was just a narrow trail going up, and whenever I reached it I would tell myself to get it over with because by the time I was done I knew that the hike was almost over.
I would wonder if the Heninger Hike would be more fun if that stretch was taken out, but usually I came to the conclusion that I would never want it to be that way. That tedious part, the hardest part of the hike, made it that much more satisfying to me when I got to the end.
For me, it's the same with books. To feel like I have completed a hard journey, I need to have experienced that steep hike, the few pages that felt like work. I think on a fictional level, there are two reasons why this is necessary. First, it gives the subconscious impression that the characters have also gone through a hard journey. Second, it makes the story feel more real because, unless you're Tina Turner, you probably experience tedious and boring episodes in your own life. (Note: I really know very little about Tina Turner.)
So, that's my contentious argument for this Monday. Put a boring scene in your book. I know I will!