When a chapter is slow, combine it with another chapter. I had revised both chapters several times, and they seemed fine. But fine doesn’t equate to interesting, exciting, or worth reading. As I imagined the critiquers on critiquecircle.com commenting on it, I could picture several of them asking, ‘What was the point?’ Well, part of it is to show the main character being effective at helping people solve problems. It takes a while to show something like that, which is why the general advice, ‘show, don’t tell’ is never meant to be used all the time. Part of effective story-telling is knowing when to summarize something.
I had so much fun combining chapters, that I got a bit carried away. Still, it’s a good way to see something fresh. And a lot of my chapters were too short.
With showing, it’s important not to drag something out. How do I show a boring meeting without boring the reader? Having the main character count the wrinkles on the speaker is one way. (Barry’s idea, actually.) But it made for a neat scene.
Marty had counted Frank’s wrinkle lines numerous times, but couldn’t pin a number on them. Somewhere between seven and ten. Frank didn’t vary his facial expression, so Marty wasn’t sure why the wrinkle lines appeared and disappeared. The exercise kept him from drifting off like other participants.