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Thread: Moving the plot forward at the right pace

  1. #26
    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    =dchisholm125;7986413]Tangent!!

    So, I have three questions to pose:

    1. Can a climax be hidden and come on suddenly without warning as long as the tension has been clearly built over the course of the book? In which case it would not be without warning

    For example, a hated antagonist that is only mentioned, but never seen, suddenly so long as it isn't out-of-the-blue suddenly. The cavalry coming over the hill just in time is okay so long as the reader knows someone sent for the cavalry appears at some gathering and the climax ensues.

    2. Can a book simply just NOT have a climax, but still be a good story? Most good stories lead somewhere.

    3. If you're trying to keep real-time pacing in your story, how do you fill time when you're character is traveling? What do you mean by real-time pacing?

    I don't want to sit twiddling my thumbs sitting next to a character and staring out the window at the scenery while he spends two hours driving from A to B. If nothing of any interest or relevance happens during the journey - cut it and transition straight to the next scene.
    Everything yields to treatment.

  2. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bufty View Post
    I don't want to sit twiddling my thumbs sitting next to a character and staring out the window at the scenery while he spends two hours driving from A to B. If nothing of any interest or relevance happens during the journey - cut it and transition straight to the next scene.
    Yes. That's the difference between a good travelogue and a boring one.
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  3. #28
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    Well, for the real-time pacing, I use that time for the MC to internalize and/or recount previous experiences. However at 200k words it may be too much blabber, not enough plot.

    I just don't like the idea of 'I got on the bus in X' and then the very next sentence says 'I got off the bus in Y fourteen hours later.' it feels like an insult to the reader...

    I don't mean to overtake the thread either Slow Typist... we have similar issues with pacing
    Civil - Completed at 187,750 words - chopping it to 140,000
    Red and Purple - Started, 15,500 words in
    Stay the Fury - Fully outlined

    Unnamed Fantasy - 16,143 words in and wingin' it!

  4. #29
    dragon seeker CatchingADragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dchisholm125 View Post
    I just don't like the idea of 'I got on the bus in X' and then the very next sentence says 'I got off the bus in Y fourteen hours later.' it feels like an insult to the reader...
    I think most readers would prefer it. You don't even have to describe getting on and off the bus. Perhaps just: "After a long bus ride..."

    It's the same reason we don't describe our characters' bathroom trips. If it doesn't have to do with the story, it's not needed. Skip to a scene that moves the story forward.

    My opinion at least.

  5. #30
    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    If you do nothing of interest on the journey from A to B why bother telling me - it's boring and I'm not interested.

    It's not even necessary to say outright you got on a bus, or whatever.

    Transitions are your friend.

    I scattered the papers onto the floor. Nothing made any sense. Maybe the answer lay in Atlanta.

    #

    Two days's later I took a taxi from the Atlanta bus station to the last address I had for Marge. The apartment was on the fifth floor of.....
    One of the dangers of First person is waffling on about trivia.


    =dchisholm125;7986822]Well, for the real-time pacing, I use that time for the MC to internalize and/or recount previous experiences. However at 200k words it may be too much blabber, not enough plot.

    I just don't like the idea of 'I got on the bus in X' and then the very next sentence says 'I got off the bus in Y fourteen hours later.' it feels like an insult to the reader...

    I don't mean to overtake the thread either Slow Typist... we have similar issues with pacing
    Last edited by Bufty; 02-21-2013 at 02:45 PM.
    Everything yields to treatment.

  6. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Putputt View Post
    Hi Slow Typist,

    I think you may be over-thinking this. I'd just write the book, leave it for a few weeks once it's done, and then read it, taking note of where the pages fly by for you and where they slow down. After you've edited, you can send it out to your betas and ask them where their interest wanes. That's a great way of catching where the pacing starts to flag.

    It sounds like you have the theory of good pacing down pat, now you just have to put it into practice.
    I personally would rather risk over-analysing than risk getting it wrong.

  7. #32
    permanently suctioned to Buz's leg Putputt's Avatar
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    Ahh, I guess you and I have different opinions on this.

    For myself, I find that there is a huge difference between theory and practice. Knowing, even understanding, why something works in theory doesn't mean I'm sure to get the book right. I outline before I write, I have a good idea of what's going to happen, but once I start writing, the book takes on a life of its own. I don't stop to question, "Hey, is the pacing going to work if I do this scene now?" I know the scene should go here or there because that's what the book needs. I don't know this before I actually start writing the book.

    As for "getting it wrong", I don't think you should be afraid of doing that. Don't let the fear of getting it wrong hold you back. It's precisely why writers edit.
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  8. #33
    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    Over-analysing is neither a desirable attribute nor very productive.


    Quote Originally Posted by Slow Typist View Post
    I personally would rather risk over-analysing than risk getting it wrong.
    Everything yields to treatment.

  9. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bufty View Post
    Over-analysing is neither a desirable attribute nor very productive.
    I agree. I didn't say I was aiming to over-analyse.

    I suspect that several on here would be quite horrified by the approach I'm taking to writing my novel...

  10. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Putputt View Post
    Ahh, I guess you and I have different opinions on this.

    For myself, I find that there is a huge difference between theory and practice. Knowing, even understanding, why something works in theory doesn't mean I'm sure to get the book right.
    I don't think there's any known writing method which makes it sure you'll get the book right...

    I outline before I write, I have a good idea of what's going to happen, but once I start writing, the book takes on a life of its own. I don't stop to question, "Hey, is the pacing going to work if I do this scene now?" I know the scene should go here or there because that's what the book needs. I don't know this before I actually start writing the book.
    I've already written a very detailed outline and there will be no scope for the book to 'take on a life of its own' once I begin writing it up.

    Don't ask me how long - I doubt you'd approve!

  11. #36
    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    Nothing wrong with detailed outlining, but saying in advance there will be no scope for the book to '...take on a life of its own...' is sort of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    Good luck.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slow Typist View Post
    I don't think there's any known writing method which makes it sure you'll get the book right...



    I've already written a very detailed outline and there will be no scope for the book to 'take on a life of its own' once I begin writing it up.

    Don't ask me how long - I doubt you'd approve!
    Everything yields to treatment.

  12. #37
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    I agree with Bufty on that one, letting your characters and plot flow organically can lead to spectacular things =] Trailing from the plot can open up interesting new relationships, conflict, drama, and sub-plots for future books in the series or even to use later in the one you're currently writing.
    Civil - Completed at 187,750 words - chopping it to 140,000
    Red and Purple - Started, 15,500 words in
    Stay the Fury - Fully outlined

    Unnamed Fantasy - 16,143 words in and wingin' it!

  13. #38
    dragon seeker CatchingADragon's Avatar
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    My outline was so detailed that it's actually the first draft!


  14. #39
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Look, bad pace is like porn - you'll recognize it when you see it. I find it best to get out of my own head when it comes to form and just write, relying on my instinct on the rewrite to recognize where I may need to slow or speed up the pace. Also, find some good editors. Your job is to get the story down because without a compelling, interesting plot, pace doesn't matter.

    Author of Soul Blind

  15. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by CatchingADragon View Post
    My outline was so detailed that it's actually the first draft!

    Heh. Glad I'm not the only one, although mine isn't quite that detailed! I think there are a few posters on here who aren't fans of very detailed outlines (and several have warned me to 'get writing').

  16. #41
    Readin' & Writin' RachaelLaWriter's Avatar
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    Just wanted to check in and say that this thread has been incredibly helpful and interesting. I've been struggling with some of the pacing and organization in the middle of my piece, and everyone's comments have me rethinking things...
    Twitter: @rachaellawriter

  17. #42
    practical experience, FTW Hamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slow Typist View Post

    Can you clarify what you mean by this?
    The way I see it, the amount of time spent on a particular event in a story should be suited to the event. Pacing isn't something that can be imposed from on high. One can't just say, "I'm near the end of the story, so I should make my sequels shorter." The climax tends to have faster pacing because, by that point in the story, the stakes are at their highest and all the important information has been revealed. But if your climax is not naturally suited to fast pacing because of its subject matter, shortening the sequels will do nothing useful.

  18. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hamilton View Post
    The way I see it, the amount of time spent on a particular event in a story should be suited to the event. Pacing isn't something that can be imposed from on high. One can't just say, "I'm near the end of the story, so I should make my sequels shorter." The climax tends to have faster pacing because, by that point in the story, the stakes are at their highest and all the important information has been revealed. But if your climax is not naturally suited to fast pacing because of its subject matter, shortening the sequels will do nothing useful.
    Thanks. So shortening the sequels won't work as a way of speeding up a section of the plot which doesn't have a naturally fast pace.

    But assuming the climax does have a naturally fast pace (because all the right info is out etc), do you think that the sequels should be shortened, to complement the "natural" pace?

  19. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by RachaelLaWriter View Post
    Just wanted to check in and say that this thread has been incredibly helpful and interesting. I've been struggling with some of the pacing and organization in the middle of my piece, and everyone's comments have me rethinking things...
    I've found it very useful as well - thanks to everyone who's contributed...

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