So, I wrote the beginning of something about novel-sized.

I drafted totally sweet, lovable protagonists in an interesting, original relationship, I placed them in a solid world, I painted the location which was to be the main theater of the story in a rich flourish and lovely detail.

I loved the beginning.

Then I proceeded with building the actual plot. The conflict that only loomed in foreshadowing details now enters the actual build-up phase.

And it's boring.

I had imagined this phase would be much shorter. Unfortunately, there's way too many details that will be needed later, and simply must be presented right now. I can't dump it all on the reader yet, this must escalate introducing all the parts that are to come together later. But I planned for too many of these parts and introducing them takes too long, is too slow and about all are quite essential. And even when they do come together eventually, now as I look at the climax, it's merely decent, not nearly good enough to justify the long, slow, boring build-up.

Essentially, unless I come with a miraculous solution with making the build-up part more captivating, about all of the core plot is to be scraped.

Still, I'd hate to discard the wonderful protagonists and their relationship. They came up versatile and original enough that they could easily fit in a different scenario (or serve as protagonists of a lengthy, varied series). But my head is pretty much empty concerning replacement "big plot" to give them. I'm currently in recovery of a burnout that lasted good 10 years and only slowly forcing my imagination to get back up to speed. Coming up with a "replacement plot" will be difficult.

How to deal with that?

  • Drop the whole thing?
  • Shelve it and hope for ideas in nondescript future?
  • Crop the lackluster plot with its foreshadowings and try to get the protagonists into something small, simple and fun just to get a touch of what they are capable of?
  • Try to find a replacement plot somehow? How?
  • Trudge on and hope for the best?
  • Try to refactor the current plot, trimming it to more manageable dimensions?
  • Drop some bad, big bomb early on, and leave the current build-up as a background activity?
  • Take a break?

Did you experience something like that? Please share your experiences, tell me How did you deal with it? What may work, and how? What won't work and why?

2 Answers 2


Perhaps you could introduce a sub-plot. That is, you have your main climax. Call it X (big-X). You need some exposition to lead up to X. Call it x (little-x). So the story should go:


But in reality the exposition takes too long, so it's more like:


So maybe you could add another mini-climax. Call it Y. You'll need some exposition for Y. Mix that in with the exposition for X:


Of course if you need a big exposition for Y, you're back where you started, so Y has to be deliberately crafted to require less exposition than if it stood on its own.

Then you give the reader some immediate payback for their time-investment in the story, and lessen the amount of exposition before you hit a climax.


Could you try some nonlinear storytelling? Drop us into the middle of the action, and then backtrack little by little to give us context as we need it? Or, even more daring, just omit a lot of the buildup, and let the reader be in the dark about some of it? Sometimes good writing is all about knowing what to explain and what to leave a mystery.

One final suggestion. Even if you don't end up telling this as a nonlinear story, you don't have to WRITE it in order. Write all the most exciting and interesting parts first, and then see what you need to weave those together.

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