Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 10: The Boring Parts

Dave Farland, aka Dave Wolverton again joins the Writing Excuses team, and helps us discuss boredom. Specifically, we cover how to deal with it, how to go about writing those “boring parts” that come between the exciting bits that fuel your writing passion.

We talk about skipping ahead, switching viewpoints, following the pain, and trying to do this in a first-person narrative. And for an episode that claims to be about the “boring parts” this one is fairly action-packed. 


Writing Prompt: Kill the main badguy in every chapter.


30 thoughts on “Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 10: The Boring Parts”

  1. Since the very beginning. We post these late Sunday our time, and sometimes it’s sooner than others. Occasionally we post them late, but we always shoot to have them live by Sunday night.

  2. I really found this podcast fascinating. I listened to it last night and I listened to it again this morning.

    I know that this is an area where I have struggled a lot in the past. I was (and maybe still am) that new writer who would get a great head start into the book, and then find myself lost on how to manueuver from point A to point B to point C. I would always put the book aside and start another one, have great ideas, and then stall again.

    What I took out of this podcast was to remeber to change viewpoints and not get stuck one person’s version of what is happening, and to remember to make sure that there is enough little conflict (or wrinkles with the main plot) to keep the characters moving in the direction I need them to. I need to remember to not let those sections of the book just become “filler” because I know that if it was me reading the book, I’d toss it down if I got to a dry section that felt like its main goal was to take up a few chapters and X amount of pages.

    Thank you very much! Loved it as always!

  3. Pardon my surprise. I actually noticed the podsast was posted even before I left work. Normaly I can’t get at it until after midnight CST. Just seemed mighty early this time.

    I find that once a script it about 95% done I really get bored with it, and start plotting the next story. But much of this is just disciplining myself enough to finish what I started.

  4. In listening to this ‘cast prior to posting it I found two thematic gems:

    1) If it’s boring you, you’re doing it wrong.
    2) Discipline yourself to write even when it’s hard.

    No wonder we can do these things in fifteen minutes!

  5. That sums it up nicely… and I’ve apparently been going about it the wrong way for a while. I’m trying to learn to get it right.

    See, Howard? You did a good job with that and you weren’t even in David’s class!

  6. A much needed and very appreciated podcast. I am grateful for all of your talents and insight.

    To Jordo: The mic levels were spot on today for me. I just wanted you to get some positive feedback. Great work.

  7. I’m not sure the Assistant Pig Keeper will enjoy being slaughtered twenty plus times within a single book, but oh well :)

  8. I’m with M, mics were great. Good on ya Jordo!

    I really appreciate this one as it is what I am struggling with mightily right now.
    I am going to mix a few podcasts together and kick down the door on someones romance from another perspective

  9. @picking a different flavor for a chapter:
    may this be influenced by Howard being a cartoonist, or do you novelists do that as well? Picking *one* big flavor for each chapter…

  10. I haven’t ever switched viewpoints in my writing out of fear (I think) that I would just mess everything up. Seems like something only a grown-up writer should do.

    But I think this podcast is going to make me brave enough to try because I can now SEE this trick in the Mistborn books and it does make ye olde allomancer swooshing around scene more interesting. I totally get it.


  11. That’s the biggest problem with these podcasts: we’re tearing away all the smoke and mirrors and showing the real construction underneath. You’ll stop thinking we’re great writers and just think “oh, I totally see what he’s doing here. Anyone could do this stuff.”

  12. Wait, you guys are writers?

    Just kidding, of course! This isn’t something that everyone can do.. And those of us listening are hoping to join that select group of you who can! We appreciate all that you guys are doing for us!

    Oh, man.. now I sound obsessed! lol

  13. So, with all this help for you three, does this mean I have to blurb you guys’ books. Because I could so do that. Also, I might put you guys in the dedication part of my first published book…whenever that is.

  14. Is switching viewpoint in first person just a bad idea or is it just taboo?

    I’ve seen it done, but not often enough too really judge if their doing it wrong.

    What’s Y’all’s take?

  15. I wouldn’t say it’s taboo. It’s just really, really hard to do well.

    I’m defining “well” as the switch between viewpoints not being jarring and the characters being fully engaging. Also as it being necessary to juggle more than one first person viewpoint, and I don’t mean “the easiest way to explain Event A is to switch to Character B, since Character C was over at Location D”. I read a book once that juggled at least half a dozen first person viewpoints, and though it obviously made things a lot easier for the author I’m not convinced there was a real need for it. (Mind you, I only read book two of a trilogy, so maybe the real reason why was in the beginning or the end. Somehow I don’t think so, though.)

  16. Ben, I’ve read books that were written in first person and had switching POV. The writer labeled ever chapter to let the reader know who was the narrator, and I still sometimes got them confused. It is far harder to do than anything I’ve ever tried, and I wouldn’t do that in any book after reading from it.

  17. I was going to say what Jame did.. I did read a couple where it was done, and the sections were labeled to let you know which character was speaking. It can be one, but I think its really hard to do well. If it benefits your story, go ahead and give it a try. It might be something that you’ll have to work at to get it right (or maybe you’re a pro!). If it doesn’t add anything to your story, and instead is a distraction to the reader, leave it out.

    An alternative might be this.. Your first person POV shows up in chapters where its needed and 3rd person limited is used the rest of the time when you need other POV characters. Or perhaps the first person POV has a narrative before each chapter actually begins?

    It will all depend on what you’re comfortable using, and if it adds or detracts from your story.

  18. I am trying to do third limited, but I am worried that it is going to come off as first person with a lot of POV switching.
    I hope to have some more hammered out soon so I can ask how I did.

  19. About switching POVs in first person:

    Wilkie Collins: “The Moonstone”

    The switches weren’t chapterwise, though, but one person at a time told a smaller or larger section of the book, so it wasn’t confusing – also, of course, the characters & their styles were quite different.

  20. I don’t know if anyone will read this – but never mind :)

    I’m just now reading “The Three Hostages” by John Buchan which is told in first person by Richard Hannay (the first book about him is “The 39 Steps”), but some events where he is not present are told by him in third person. “I have twice heard from Turpin the story I am going to set down” is, I think, the first time this happened, but later it’s integrated more seamlessly into the narrative. It’s never confusing, hard to keep track of or jarring in any way…

  21. Michael Chabon uses a similar technique in The Yiddish Policeman’s Union. It’s actually told in third person limited, but I wonder if this might work with first person narratives too.

    Like I said, Policeman’s Union is narrated in third limited, but the only real POV character is the protaganist Landsman. The only times it switches are when another character is telling Landsman about an event that he himself was not present for. Chabon uses it to switch from third limited to third limited, but I could see it possibly working in a switch from first to first, too.

  22. After the first couple of Writing Prompts I decided (where possible) to base my WPs around a single character/story – having generated an interesting character for one of the early WPs. By this point I have an outline involving a writer having trouble finishing a book (s1e16); a scene where a profanity is not used (s1e21) which I’ll need to cut because the tone is wrong; the protagonist’s hidden (minor) secret (s1e23); him performing an unfamiliar task (s1e24); a religious perspective (s1e27); a more detailed three act outline (s2e8) and what I think is a strong female character (s2e9).

    I’m really keen to start writing, on the other hand I want to make sure that the idea is fully developed first (I think that’s a later cast). Just getting so much motivation and inspiration from the casts, thank you again.

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