From “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” all the way to “Tomorrow is another day!” there are memorable lines in books and movies. Some lines tell you what is coming such as, “Once Upon a Time…” or “When Haroun Al-Rashid was Calif in Bagdad…” When I hear those lines, I just know I’m going to hear a good story, and probably an old and well-loved one.
But there are other lines that shout out, “Boring! Skip this next part!” and those are the lines we, as writers, want to avoid in our work. One line like this is, “she was wearing…” When I read that line, I know that the rest of the paragraph can be skipped. I don’t care what she’s wearing as she comes down the steps to meet the hero unless there is a good reason for me to pay attention. If I need to know what she’s wearing, give it to me in a creative way. Slip in little bits as he looks at her. But don’t announce a paragraph long description of her latest ball gown. I don’t care.
Another “Boring! Skip this next part!” line for me is “She looked down at his sleeping face and studied him…” What follows is a detailed description of the guy’s features. Boring! Get on with the story. Slip in the details bit by bit. Or at least, don’t announce that you are going to write a boring paragraph. Because as handsome, or scarred, or different as he looks, I really don’t want to read all those details at once. They slow down the story, or bring it to a halt, while I’m wanting to know what is going to happen when he wakes up!
Have I ever used “Boring! Skip the next part!” lines in my own books? Probably. Will I in the future? I hope not.
What other “Boring! Skip this next part!” lines do you recognize?