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This is a story of a guy in the waiting room for the afterlife. Because this guy was a horrible specimen of humanity in his lifetime he is 100% sure that he is going to end up in hell and he doesn't want that to happen.

The clerk in the waiting room asks him the question "how did you get here?" and the Guy is supposed to tell the story of his life in order to be judged. Of course he lies, and this results in him ending up in a maze that takes him thousands of years to escape from. Once he makes it out, he is asked again, tries to trick the clerk once more and the cycle repeats eternally.

What I want to do is describe a slice of this eternity, maybe two or three loops, to later end the story in a way that describes the infinite time scale of this story, but the problem is that a tedious eternity is a huge amount of tedium for me and the reader to deal with.

Are there any prose examples of this getting done elsewhere? Are there any suggestions on how to make this work.

I'm new in both this site and in writing, so if I did something wrong please let me know so I can edit.

  • Out of curiosity, if wandering the maze for an eternity with his own thoughs does not make him change his mind and he's still lying to the clerk at the next loop, what will break the loop eventually? Or is it the point of the story, hell being him waiting a whole loop again and again? – kikirex Jun 12 '18 at 17:12
  • Breaking the loop is simple, all he has to do is confess the sins that lead him to this place in the first place. But he is too scared of the afterlife that awaits him, and is so convinced that he found a loophole in the system by delaying his judgment for ever, he never notices he is already as close to hell as possible. That's the current idea at least, who knows how he'll end up when I finish this. – Loupax Jun 12 '18 at 19:57
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Let the audience figure out the time scale

Start the plot with him being dropped in the maze without telling the audience how many times he has been in the maze already. Use flash back and exposition to drop clues that this is not his first time in the maze. The audience should figure out well before he gets out of the maze that this is not his first loop, but a basic reveal should be in place just in case.

For example at the start of the story he is seen making a scratch on a wall covered in scratches. On the next loop he does it again, at which point it is explained just how many scratches are present on the wall.

Integrate suspense into the story

If the maze is a simple maze, then it will get boring fast. If there is a sense of suspense it can negate some of the tediousness of it. This can come from any source that you wish to include, but it will be for you to decide how you want to introduce it.

Focus on different aspects of facing eternity with each loop

Do not include all the details in the first loop, leave some juicy details for the other loops. If the first loop is focused on his perspective of how smart he is for figuring the system. Then focus the next loop on something else, like how he is surviving in the maze.

Are there any examples of this getting done elsewhere?

A good example of this was done in a Doctor Who episode called Heaven Sent. Since the time scale is part of the plot of the episode I marked the summary below in a spoiler:

The Doctor is trapped in a castle, with no obvious way to escape it. By the end of the first loop he finds a wall that is blocking his escape, but it is too hard for him to break through, but he punches it anyways. The Doctor then sets a chain of events in motion to start a new loop. It is then revealed that the first loop was not the first loop at all, but the Doctor had been doing the same loop of events for 7,000 years by that point. It then features a montage highlighting the gradual break through of the wall over billions of years eventually allowing him to escape the loop.

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Things repeating themselves from a objective point of view does not mean that the same thoughts, emotions, feelings are also repeating in the mind of your character. As @dan-hall said it, you should adopt your main character's point of view, but horror may not be the only resort.

Your story make me think about another, The Tartar Steppe by Dino Buzzati: there is a man waiting a particular event all his live long. Nearly nothing happens during the whole story, but the reader is captivated by the way the main character trapped himself in this meaningless waiting, day after days. The book must be read quickly: it gets boring if not. Fortunately, it's short.

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  • Thanks for the reference material, will definitely give it a read after work :) – Loupax Jun 12 '18 at 8:46
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The Jaunt by Stephen King is one example that springs to mind. This story showed the effects of each 'jaunt' through eternity rather than describe the experience itself. This could be one way you could deal with it.

Another approach is to go for the Groundhog Day model. In this movie, the same thing is happening day after day but rather than show what is happening during the whole period, selected events are chosen for display. In this way you can show how the character changes/reforms between cycles (if that's what you're intending).

If you want a mechanism to deal with the tedium, then maybe concentrate on what is happening in the waiting room instead of in the slice of eternity. Show the clerk juicily gossiping, occasionally working and, now and then, opening a window (on the PC?) to check on the character's progress then reporting to someone else, as in "He's been there 350 years now and ... yeah, he just peed himself."

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Write if from the perspective of the character's internal, rather than external experience. The gradual realization that one is trapped is a nice trope in horror. Horror is interesting. Tedium is not. The horror here is in the internal experience.

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