Sometimes, especially in nano-time, the story tends to write itself. Not in the classic “vomit on the page” idea, but more in the vein of brain-dump pantser-writers like myself who prefer to sometimes write the story as it happens in the imagination.
In these cases, portraying a story as it plays in the membranes of the subconscious has a few downsides.
- Characters walk in and out of scenes unannounced
- Little to no back story is given for characters
- Story arcs and subplots often remain missing or incomplete
- Building blocks, such as general observances in the attitude of the characters within a group dynamic, while they may exist in your head, are missing entirely on the printed page.
This is where “Shawarma Filler” comes into play.
If you’ve seen the film The Avengers, during a heated battle scene with the group of heroes, Iron Man kites a giant monster to the rest of the group and says “I saw a place selling Shawarmas a few blocks over we should check out sometime.” To most people, this is Tony Stark being a cheeky bastard trying to lighten the mood while Earth is under invasion. I saw it as a way Joss Whedon wrote something extra to give fans a way to tell everyone “Hey, these guys may put their ass on the line, but they also have lives outside of beating up bad guys and saving universes. Now they have an idea for dinner.”
In your story, or stories, depending on how many ideas you have floating around, what are you doing to give the reader a bit of humanity? What can you write – a scene, a dialog between characters, a flashback involving something tying current events and the past – into your current story to help readers understand the point of view more?
If nothing else, it helps with word count. At the best, it fills in holes and thickens the plot.
And everyone loves thicker plots.