Friday, October 28, 2011


The pace of a story is the speed with which it moves.  The right pace for a story depends on the story most of the time; however, there are exceptions.  One of my main criticism of the Time of Wheel series is that it drags.  Robert Jordan extends scene well past the point I think he needs to.  I'm not sure why.  A simple example of this is in the first book.  Towards the end of the novel, Rand keeps trudging down the road to his destination and every chapter is a new town.  I was left with the impression that either this is a very long road or a densely populated area since Rand is on foot and can't go very far in a day.

Ultimately, the book concludes with a battle and Rand never reaches his destination.  This is very unsatisfying.  If the point was that Rand was never suppose to reach his destination why slog the reader through all those other towns?

I often have the reverse problem.  I am too brief (at least in the first draft) and I never almost always go back and add details and information.  What I try to do is not bore the reader too much.  It can be difficult.  If the reader is looking for action and your scene is one of interrogation that's a problem. Of course if the questioning reveals important information for the reader, that's another thing all together.

I allow myself bits of both because in a fantasy novel I often have a lot of information to convene to the reader.  He or she does not know the world.  So if they are traveling to Ravenhurst, I need at least a scene or two where the characters discuss the town's history and what to do their and things like that.  But not too much.  I also need to keep them in the moment and keep the reader awake, say with a band of goblins who are out scouting for food.

But interweaving both elements I can (hopefully) keep the story moving and pass along good information to the reader.

Of course, I've got other things to tell the reader too.  There's character development in there somewhere and with six main characters, I have no shortage of feelings, thoughts, and dialogue.

What's the right pace for your story?  I have no idea.  I've not read your story.  But you can find out by letting others read it and but looking for scenes and paragraph where the story bogs down.  Most people like a quick pace or even a modest pace.  Say what you have to say and move on.  Don't linger on a scene needlessly.  And above all, don't bore the reader.

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