Damn, That’s Boring

Oh, god, do I hate the new story I’m working on.

I started it yesterday and got several pages into it.  As I’m writing it, I know it’s got a destination and an ending that I’m working towards.  Seven pages in a day is pretty good, but after the first few pages, I began telling myself how much I didn’t like this story and how it was already starting to bore me to tears.

Without giving too much away, it’s a story of war veterans returning to combat.  When I got the idea, I guess I had an image in the back of my head of real-world veterans who come home from war but are so used to fighting that they find work with private military companies like Executive Outcomes.  With that in mind, I began asking myself: 1) is this just perpetuating the notion of veterans as violence junkies and time bombs, 2) how is this different from other stories about veterans in general, and 3) is this just that same story but with space marines?

Writers have different opinions on boredom in the first draft.  The major camps are either the story is boring but you need to press on, or the story is boring and therefore not worth your time.  The former is about discipline, the need to see a piece through to the end.  The latter is about the joy of storytelling and using that as fuel.

Personally, I’m in the middle.  If I’m working on a long piece of fiction, then the fun scenes to write will motivate me through the rough patches.  But if I’m working on a short story, the first draft has to be done in one sitting.  That’s not some gemstone of craft I picked up from another writer.  The short stories that I tend to get published are usually drafted that way, and then I can go back and edit to my heart’s desire.

That doesn’t mean you or I are doomed to remain in creative limbo.  Even the stories you think of as boring now might have potential later.  James Patterson once said you don’t stop a story because it’s bad.  You stop it because it’s not the right one for you at that particular time.

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