They say if it’s boring to write, it’s boring to read.
This little nugget of writing advice is one of the true ones. But when you’re writing a scene that just isn’t working and you need it to move the story along, that boring write is hard to turn into a non-boring read.
Do you just delete the scene?
Yes! But then you realize it contains info pivotal to the upcoming twist and you really can’t work that info in anywhere else (full disclosure, this may have happened to me during a recent edit).
Do you rewrite the whole thing?
Sure! But then you get about halfway through and realize you’re just rehashing what you had because that’s how your writer-brain sees this scene—and somehow you’ve now made it even more boring.
What you need to do is not scrap or rewrite the scene entirely, but transform it and give it the kick it’s missing.
So, how do you do that?
You take your boring, yet necessary, scene and make it readable with these writing ideas!
5 Writing Ideas To Transform A Boring Scene
1. Ask “What If?”
Asking yourself what would happen if a certain event did or didn’t take place is a great way to create a story or expand on a plot. Applying this same question to a boring scene works just as well.
What if your MC didn’t go to school or work today? What if they opened a wrongly delivered parcel? What if they arrived somewhere too early or too late? How would that change the events of the scene?
Kick-start your creativity and take the scene from run-of-the-mill to interesting by asking “What if?”.
2. Skip The Yadda-Yadda
Sometimes the reason a scene is boring is you yadda-yadda’d the best part. Maybe you couldn’t be bothered to write it properly. Maybe you didn’t know how to write it properly. Or maybe you didn’t know how important the scene would be when you created the first draft and now you’ve got to make it more important. In any case, you’ve got a scene that reads as boring because the only interesting thing about it hasn’t been given enough detail.
Skip the yadda-yadda and see where you can delve a little deeper with internal character thoughts, description, or conflict.
On the flip side, maybe you’ve gone too detailed and dragged the scene out. Take a good look at every sentence and see if transforming some paragraphs into yadda-yadda will get the scene moving at an interesting, non-boring pace.
3. Tell, Just A Little
Another piece of well-known writing advice is showing and not telling. That means instead of telling the reader how the MC outsmarted her foe or what emotions she’s feeling as she does it, you show it. Where such advice can get boring is taking it too far and showing everything.
Does the reader want to read about the big magical battle, feeling how the MC felt when power coursed through his veins? Yes! Do they want to read about how the MC got to said battle in his beat-up old car, parking it down the road and walking on tired, aching feet to the place of the battle? No!
You might have to include that stuff because the car or setting is relevant in the grand scheme of the story, but it’s that info that can benefit from telling, not showing. Examine your scene for parts the reader needs to know but can be told, and show the bits the reader won’t want to skim to create less of a bore-fest.
4. Dial-In The Dialogue
There are a few ways to get vital info across to the reader, including a description-filled paragraph or internal character thoughts. I’ve done this in certain scenes and I’ve almost fallen asleep reading those same scenes back. One way I’ve gotten off the train to snooze-ville is by hitching a ride to dialogue town and taking that vital, need-to-know info and transforming it into a conversation instead.
If you’ve got at least two characters in the scene and that paragraph where your MC internally muses about something that happened to them can instead be revealed in a snappy back-and-forth conversation, try it and see if it helps take your scene from boring to fun!
5. Drop-In Some Thrills
A key to creating a balanced book is having page-turning scenes and slower sequels. Sequels allow your characters the chance to catch their breath and process any big events that may have happened to them. These kinds of scenes are supposed to be light on thrilling events, which can come across as boring.
How often have you been reading a book late at night, ignoring the fact you need to be up early, and you come across a part where everything is meandering along and you decide it’s the perfect time to put the book down.
Nothing is happening and the scene is boring enough you’re choosing a good night’s sleep over reading. Then, bam! There’s a sentence that grabs your interest and doesn’t let go. It could be foreshadowing that makes you want to keep reading. It could be the reveal that unexpectedly links the MC’s actions in chapter five to that plot twist in chapter ten and now you’ve got to see how it all ties together!
Even more thrilling is ending a chapter that feels predictable and a safe place to drop your bookmark on a cliffhanger. That little trick will keep readers turning the page until the sun comes up! If you feel as if your chapter is veering near boring (and it works for the plot), amp up the thrills with an unexpected reveal or cliffhanger!
And there you have five ideas to help you transform a boring scene. It’d be nice if your writing was so on point you’d never have to use them, but the creative life just doesn’t work like that. If you have any of your own tips, be sure to share them in the comments!
— K.M. Allan