I’ve been a runner for years. Not because I really like it, but it’s good for me and it doesn’t take a lot of coordination. I tried aerobics back in the day—not a pretty sight. So I went back to running. But when we moved from California to New England, I ran into a problem. Ice.
Running on snow wasn’t a problem, and I didn’t mind the cold. But ice was too dangerous, especially for a person whose coordination was sketchy. So I ended up on a treadmill and was bored silly.
I started reading while I ran the treadmill. I've read a ton of books—thrillers, mysteries, YA novels. And I discovered "the boring parts." I’m usually a very patient reader. But when I need to be distracted from the smack of my shoes, the sweat dripping down my neck, and the muscles that are yelling “we don’t want to do this,” I have no patience for the boring parts.
But boring doesn’t mean slow. I understand how pacing ebbs and flows, but when it ebbs the plot needs to continue to advance and character needs to continue being revealed. I’ve discovered that I can almost always skip the boring sections without missing any plot or character development. In particular, this usually happens when the author throws in the obligatory paragraph or three of setting where nothing happens except telling the reader the color of a particular house, how spectacular the sunset is, etc. Honestly, I skip these sections because, as a reader, I don’t care unless it’s integral to the plot or the character.
So my advice is to cut the boring parts or better yet spice them up. Use a setting description to have a character remember a similar setting where something momentous happened—their dog died, their parent died, or, even better, a meteor hit and killed both their dog and their parent.
Remember Elmore Leonard’s famous quote, “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.”
Speaking of pipe weed...
It's an authentic Swiss clay pipe. But no pipe weed. Note Matt's disappointment.
Reading the first chapter aloud and getting caught up in the story all over again.
Here's our copy. It has gorgeous illustrations.