You’ve probably heard some version of this saying: Fiction is real life without the boring parts. I don’t know where this came from and am too lazy and under-caffeinated to google it but I agree with it. I try not to write boring stuff.
Digression # 1 – Sometimes it is hard to tell what is boring or not. A scene that takes me hours to perfect (and therefore feels tedious) can be read in under a minute and can feel exciting to the reader. A friend working on a first novel recently texted me this:
Okay, so your narrative should not be boring. It should also make an arc. What the?? No doubt you’ve heard these fated words: narrative arc (the close cousin of a character arc, which might also make you shiver with dread). The central conflict of the story must build in tension, come to a critical junction, and then resolve.
All the pieces (aka plot points, scenes, details, character choices) must fit this narrative arc. Subplots as well as main plots weave together to form a cohesive story. If you screw up the tension (peak too soon, have too many peaks, forget to have anything happen), the fictional narrative fails.
Digression #2 – I deeply regret that I can not tell you how to successfully do the aforementioned. I muddle through with my own books.
But the point of this post was to point out a serious problem with real life not to tell you how to write a novel. The problem with real life is that the pieces most definitely will not fit, and I so desperately want them too. I want congruence. I want a story that makes sense. But shit happens–plot points that were NOT in my outline. Then there I am, juggling multiple narratives that are most definitely NOT working together.
Digression #3 – Psychologists call this cognitive dissonance.
In my novels, I delete things that don’t fit my narrative arc. (Actually, here is some solid writing advice: if it doesn’t work get rid of it). In real life, the delete key is broken and I’m left with press enter to accept. Then I get down to making meaning out of the hodge-podge.
Digression #4 – I put the mess into novels, where on occasion, the narrative behaves.