1. Foxe
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    Foxe Active Member

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    Changing the pace of a short story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Foxe, Sep 13, 2014.

    How do you fine folks feel about a break in storytelling pace.
    The short story I am working on is recounted at a consistent pace. But in the story there's a long, drawn-out clash between police and citizens (in the style of the barricade revolutions of 1848). I don't want to describe the fighting, neither in detail, nor through the experience of the protagonist.
    Would a brief description of an event that happens over the course of a longer period (longer than the story's timeframe up until that point). The story would then resume its normal pace at the end of the fighting until the conclusion.
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    This seems perfectly normal--I think that most stories skip large chunks of time. If a significant event happens at breakfast, and another one happens at midnight, you wouldn't want the story to plod through the rest of an uneventful day.
     
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  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    The writer can change the pace anytime in the work depending on the effect he's/she's going for. For example, you may choose to use a faster pace for a fight scene than you would for a scene where the characters are having a quiet picnic. Do what you think will benefit your work the most.
     
  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Pacing is an issue that everybody has to deal with, whether they're writing a short story or a novel. For most of the time you will probably not be writing in 'real time,' or rather you'll be condensing events and focusing on the ones that are important, and tying them together with transitions of various kinds.

    Dialogue, for example, is a 'real time' venture, in that when we read dialogue we're following what is being said at more or less the pace it's being spoken. It creates immediacy, and makes the reader feel as if they are 'there' in the scene. Which is one of the reasons people love dialogue.

    I reckon any time you slow a scene down closer to 'real time,' you will have this effect on the reader. If you say "He drove home, parked the car in the driveway, then went into the house through the front door, as usual." that's a condensation of the time that went by. It's important that this action is performed, but it's not evocative or unusual, and is just a transition to get your character into the house, where, presumably, something else will happen.

    If something of major importance happens as soon as he steps through the front door, however, it's likely that you will slow time down, to let us experience it with him. Maybe he will sense immediately that something is wrong, because his wife's coat is still hanging on the peg, and he knows she's supposed to be away at their granddaughter's birthday party. He calls to her several times, but there is no answer. The house is cold—unusually cold—and he realises that fresh air is circulating through it as if somebody has left a window open. He goes directly into the kitchen, where he is met by the cat. The cat runs to the back door and begins turning in circles, mewing as if it wants to tell him something. The curtains at the back window are billowing inwards, and when he goes to close the window, he notices what looks like spatters of blood on the doormat.

    Whenever you slow action down, the reader becomes more closely identified with it.
     
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  5. WesleyRobinson
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    WesleyRobinson New Member

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    That is a perfectly fine thing to do. If you find it important to describe it then do so. However, if each individual detail does not hold the same level of importance, it is normal to skip a huge chunk of time.
    Sometimes uneventful stories with literally no story are great pieces of art. All depends on the writer's passion behind it.
     
  6. Foxe
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    Foxe Active Member

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    Thanks for your answers, especially looking at the story as something that slows down and speeds up - very helpful and I will do just that.
     

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