We all hear about making every word, sentence, paragraph count, but sometimes it can feel like creating a road map between interesting cities with long stretches of boring, necessary road in between. However, if you think it's boring to write (or just sludgy) then what is a reader going to think? Pretty much the same, I bet.
So how do you go about making all these little bits in between interesting points fun to write? Here are my top five tips:
1) Don't write them at first. Put in a note that reminds you how the scenes will come together and then get back to those parts later.
2) Once you've done that and your first draft is finished, then sit down and let your story stew in your head (this is what the time away from your novel is all about).
3) As you stew, think about the world, the characters, the premise, etc - what does it mean to you? How could you show this in really quirky ways unique to your world and your story? Think about all the things that excite you in the details and use these on the "roads" between big scenes to keep it fresh and exciting.
4) Think outside the box. When you think of one bridge to write, discard that idea. And the second idea, and the third, fourth and fifth. When you hit upon idea five on how to improve writing these sludgy bits, then there's your answer - you've challenged your mind to be more creative.
5) Ask yourself why it's sludgy. Then think about the subtext of your novel and how you can weave in the equivalent of an "insider's joke". Of course, it doesn't have to be funny things, it can be anything. Look at the Harry Potter books, for example, which have extremely well hidden yet fascinating hidden messages in them. Take symbolism for example: do you like adding little symbolism flourishes that only the most discerning of readers would ever find? Do you get a kick out of well-hidden clues? Well, these sludgy bits are where you can play around and put these things in. And this applies to every aspect of the writing craft - theme, character development, world building, structure. Take each element and find what excites you about it, and then use it to your advantage to spice up those sludgy parts!
For some reason, a lot of writers think there needs to be parts to trudge through in order to get to the "real" story that they want to write. But it doesn't have to be this way. Just give yourself permission to go wild, think laterally, dig deep into what makes you enjoy the journey, and then your readers will enjoy it, too.
So go forth and turn that sludge into pure gold!!!