I just solved a plot problem in No More Lies that’s been bothering me since late 2013 when I wrote the first draft of the section I’m currently revising! I’ve known since pretty much when I wrote it that the section would need drastic cuts . . . one of those times when an idea works much better in your head than it does on paper . . . but I wasn’t sure how to go about it since one of the things that happens in the part that didn’t work right has later ramifications. I just realized, while whining about how bad this section was, that there’s a very easy fix: Tell, don’t show.
Yes, I know that’s contrary to common writer wisdom, but this time it’s the right thing to do. Most of the scenes in question are dull, in large part because Bobby is in a culture he doesn’t understand, surrounded by people who don’t speak any languages he does, during them. It’s not a “fish out of water” scenario because he deals with it by spending the whole trip reading, which isn’t exactly fun to describe.* But there’s one scene where a drastic misunderstanding occurs that Bobby throws in his girlfriend’s face during a later argument. But I can’t have the scene with the misunderstanding without having the ones after it, the dull ones, because the pacing would be too weird. I can, however, have the misunderstanding mentioned as being the only thing worth noting that happened on the trip, and then get on with the next section.
I really think sometimes more of the skill in writing a good story than most people realize is choosing what to leave out.