Listening to Leonard

“When you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip.” ~~Elmore Leonard, author of Get Shorty and Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing.

I’ve been bogged down lately. Yes, life is busy, but come on – I couldn’t find time to even sit down and write 100 words? What’s up with that? I think I’ve figured it out – I’m in the middle of writing the part that people will skip.

I had a scene planned where the whole gang gets together and fills in the protagonist about what’s going on. In this contemporary fantasy they have to explain to this poor woman about magic powers, faerie, and Evil From Another Dimension. Yes, this has to happen. Yes, I managed to get all the way to Chapter 3, with cool stuff happening and crises to deal with and character development and so on, but now I had to start dropping the background. I played with that for a long time, starting it over again 4 or 5 times, and I finally got a version I’m happy with (it involved narrowing it down to just two people, the main character and one who is in some ways her nemesis, setting aside the Evil thing).

But now I have a couple of scenes planned that, as I try to work on them, feel like filler. The real action is going to start up again soon, but not yet. In the meantime, I was going to develop some more character background and set the stage for some stuff that’s coming up. But seriously, I think I’m in the middle of the part that readers skip.

So – listening to Leonard – I’m stepping back to re-think. Can I just jump ahead to the next action moment? Can I make something more important happen now, so this stage-setting and character-building can feel less dumpy?

We’ll see.

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