Through much of my novel the protagonist spends considerable time cruising over various landscapes at speeds exceeding 500 km/h. To you or me this is significant but to the character, it's "just a job."

The obvious phrases like "he sped" or "they raced" are going to get old quick in this context. I want the reader to experience the thrill of flying across the land at thrilling speeds, without betraying the routineness of it for the pilot. For example, "Focusing on the muffled whistle of air screaming across the hull outside, he watched hypnotic streaks of greenery flowed endlessly below the craft and allowed his mind to sink into a sort of lazy trance."

But I'm struggling to keep each "update" fresh, or to avoid irritating repetition. Thoughts?

4 Answers 4


I'm not sure that can be done, especially if the MC is bored with it. It isn't a good idea to try and thrill the reader with the same thing again and again and again anyway!

So do it once, and then gloss over it.

In my story, one character is an extraordinary marksman. He takes this for granted, but nobody that sees him in action for their first time ever takes it for granted. Their praise, astonishment, or laughter pleases him, it reminds him he is special, and there is nothing else particularly remarkable about him (by my design).

So I have, in the story, devised several reasons (including one early on) for him to exercise his talent in front of strangers, and amaze them. One in particular that sees this several times stops having any reaction. The marksman notices that, but he doesn't mention it: Because he gets it, he knows that after awhile, his friend would be more surprised if he missed!

The amazing things we experience will become routine and "just the way things are," after a few exposures. This goes for readers too, you can thrill them once with astonishing speed, but that's it. After that, they get it: The ship is crazy fast.

So pour all your attention into the first description. Make it long and milk the first-time. If nothing changes about the speed, it is boring to describe it in detail the second time. You can change something, add a fight or counter-attack, add a malfunction, hit a damn goose at 500 kmh.

This is why fights and battles can be evergreen, we can make each one different with different enemies, positions, stakes, and defenses.

But what you are talking about is static and unchanging, so the description just seems repetitive, and that gets boring quick.


I have a few pilots in my book and they are blasé about flying at high speeds but never about flying itself. They are passionate about this task they have and that the jets they fly are somewhat enhanced is a matter of course. I mention things they see while flying, the shape of clouds ahead and the information they glean about the winds from the shapes they see. One person might look at a cloud and see a running dog - they see wind shear or a change in wind speed that they factor into their calculations and adapt to circumstances before they happen.

If the MC is blasé about it, perhaps there is another character for whom this is bright and new, less jaded by experience.

The skill of my pilots is something remarked upon by other characters, like Amadeus’ marksman and the pilots are rather amused by this as this is their normal and it takes other things to thrill them.

If the MC is a passenger, he might just expect travel from New York to Paris to take x hours and any deviation from that norm irks him. If your MC is a pilot, maybe they yearn to be flying for pleasure in a glider rather than carting strangers to their destinations just to pay the bills.

The contrasts between the peace and silence of gliders and the noise of the plane he must fly can come into play. The sounds of the plane would be something the pilot will heed constantly as they are cues to whether all is well that are more reliable than the alarms that may or may not be working depending on when it was last maintained - and by whom. The whistle would have a particular pitch that would tell him how fast they were travelling.


When bored, the mind often just wanders in thoughts of its own. The repetitive scene can be a moment for the character to express his/her thoughts, or for the author to introduce flashbacks. You can use the boredom as an excuse to digress away from current events.


Character thoughts: "... And there went again the endless plains of Void. MC yawned wondering whether the seeming repetition of the barren landscape was but a mockery of her whole life: eventful.[...] The plains again, void like their cursed name. MC couldn't even feel annoyed by their sight. It was something that had to be done, for the sake of it. Like living. Like completing {quest of story}."

Flashbacks: "The ship whizzed once again across the plains of Void. MC hands operated mechanically across the dashboard, while her memory brought her back images of Place. It had been a joyful childhood in Place, with parents and friends. [...] Again the images of Place raced in her mind, just as static as the landscape of Void accompanied her in her routine journey. Place, so distant, yet so dear to her... "


Typically you present your story through a point-of-view, and if your character's perspective on something is boredom, it doesn't make sense to present it as thrilling to the reader. For instance, most of us hurtle across our landscapes in big two-ton metal machines at speeds over 60 miles per hour, but few of us perceive it as thrilling, because it is too habitual.

But there is an easy way around this problem: Just have your main character think back to the days when this was all new to him, and he found it the most exciting thing in the world. You can have a fully described flashback to those early days. Then you can contrast that with his present perceptions, and show how much they've changed.

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