Sooner or later your characters are going to need to go somewhere. This place can be as magical as the corner shop, extra points for a barbarian protagonist buying a pint of milk, or as exciting as a candlelit rendezvous with the soon to be love of their life (yes I’m looking at you again paranormal romance). Wherever they are going they will need to travel to get there, and just driving down the road in the car is hardly worthy of being detailed in a novel. So, below are some of my top tips for getting your characters from A to B.
Tip 1: The first tip, and perhaps the easiest solution to this conundrum is have something exciting happen during the journey. Perhaps your barbarian who’s walking down the road for a pint of milk (would you let a barbarian drive a car) encounters a small horde of armed warriors who want to claim the milk bounty for their own. Or perhaps your protagonist who is driving to a romantic rendezvous can have a car accident or a flat tire, which will make him late for his meeting and lose him the love of his life (don’t worry, she’ll forgive him). What both of these things have in common is conflict, they challenge your characters, and make you root for them when they overcome their obstacles. It also adds some much-needed excitement to traveling sequences.
Tip 2: My next step would be to skip over traveling entirely. If nothing exciting, foreshadowing, or conflict-inducing is going to happen then move passed it. If the barbarian is going to make it to the shop and back with his milk without incident then smooth over that section, with a chapter end perhaps, and skip to the next section where he arrives home to find his heavily-armed barbarian wife wanted skimmed-milk not full-fat. Every word you use should advance the plot, and if nothing of import happens then just move right towards the part where interesting things start happening again. It might seem like a cheat but it ensures your readers are always in the midst of something exciting, such as your protagonist finally embracing the soon-to-be love of his life on the rooftop candlelit dinner.
Tip 3: My final tip for traveling, if you don’t want to brush by or have something interesting happen, would be to use it as a chance to focus on your main character. Driving a car, or walking to the shop, is a relatively quiet and solitary affair which gives ample time for reflection. Maybe your barbarian is considering a pacifist lifestyle, reflected by his care not to step on any butterflies or the warm fuzzy feeling he gets when watching children at play under a careful parental eye. Perhaps you protagonist is having doubts about this meeting because he’s an immortal (not to mention sexy) creature of the night (translation: really sexy), and this is reflected by the nervous way he taps the wheel and fusses his reflection (bonus points if he’s fretting because he doesn’t have a reflection and doesn’t know if he looks terrible or not). If a traveling sequence isn’t advancing your plot then make sure it grows your character.
That’s it for my traveling tips. I hope you enjoyed the article because I’m likely to be back with more before long. As before any questions, criticisms, and tips of your own, feel free to comment below.
Until then, keep hiking