1. DischargedKombat
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    DischargedKombat Member

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    Is the Plot too Slow?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by DischargedKombat, Apr 15, 2013.

    I've been working on a project for about two years now. It hasn't occurred to me until after I wrote about 14 chapters in that I hit the 400 page mark. Now originally, my story was going to be in three parts. Doing the calculation now, I see that my story will perhaps be 750-800 pages, instead of the expected 600...

    Between everyone, do you feel that a long story that ends with three arcs (400, 200, 200) is necessarily slow? I feel that I've just started the main plot of the story, and everything before it led up to it (although I have already written a prequel). I know there is no limit on chapters, but are my chapters becoming to long? Is there a quota I should reach with every part of the story? (Although I don't feel like i have wasted any area of my project so far, excluding fictitious writer's block) Am I doing something wrong? Should I revise it? I yearn for your replies!

    Edit: I probably should clarify. But I am going to do this with as little emphasis on the plot as possible. Basically, the main story is about a war. The war doesn't start till page two hundred and forty, but everything beforehand is what was supposed to cause it (missions, captures of VIPs and HVTs, etc) This is the problem. I don't know what to omit. That is what makes me wonder if the plot is slow.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The plot means nothing. The page count ro cover it means nothingm as li=ong as the word count is within the range specified in the publisher's submission guidelines.

    What matters is the quality of the writing.
     
  3. DischargedKombat
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    DischargedKombat Member

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    Thanks
     
  4. jeepea
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    jeepea Member

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    It sounds like you have a very long book, one that might be very difficult to have published. Most first books are less than 120,000 words and yours sounds like it might be 200,000 or more. About your plot, it's very hard to tell about the pacing of your book from what you put in your post. If your main story is about a war and you wait 240 pages before you get to it, you're likely to lose the interest of your reader. It's always better to start your story as closely as possible to when the main conflict begins.

    If your book is going to have three parts, according to traditional dramatic theory, the first and third parts would be 200 pages and the second part would be 400, if your total is going to be 800. But it depends on what you have in those parts. If you don't bore the reader, then you can do it any way you want.

    Of course the plot means something. If a book has a plot, it's important.
     
  5. DischargedKombat
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    DischargedKombat Member

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    This is not the first book. The first one was 120,000 words... This is the second one. What I am really afraid of is the huge time gap between the war and the beginning events... Like you said, this presses a problem with interest. I agree.
     
  6. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    As long as you are keeping the readers entertained you're doing alright. Don't worry about the numbers. A good story will keep the reader pulled in no matter how many pages it takes to get to the twist or the conclusion.
     
  7. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    This doesn't seem to make much sense. I know you don't want to reveal your plot, but if this is the second book in the project and the project is about a war, doesn't it seem like a good idea to move things along and get to the war? Forgive me if I misinterpret you. Maybe the war is just the main focus of this book? All I can say is that everything that happens need not just be relevant, but important as well. I don't know enough about your story to tell you if you even need to cut anything, but I will suggest keeping the story engaging. If the readers are entertained and engaged in the story, it doesn't matter how long it is--unless there is a obvious focus of the story, then it can seem really off balance.

    I'm reworking a project which grew very large and didn't really find its true story until more than a third of the way through. So now I have to rethink my focus, the story I'm really trying to tell, and which characters are driving the story, in order to actually proceed. Consider what you know, find what's important, try timelining your story if you need to. Most importantly tell the story as best you can and find people you trust to read it.
     
  8. TaylorWP
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    TaylorWP New Member

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    Following up on Cogito's reply, "What matters is the quality of the writing. " I would add that quality writing is a crucial element in keeping the reader's interest. It's hard to tell if people won't put it down until they're finished (or simply must), but that's what you're aiming for, no matter how leisurely or action-packed the plot may be. You can get away with a long book that holds the reader's interest to the end.
     
  9. DischargedKombat
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    DischargedKombat Member

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    Thank you everyone for your response. I think at this point i have decided to finish the story, from beginning to end. Later, when I go back and start editing, I will take out all unnecessary parts, and make sure nothing is fallacious, and that everything flows. But for now, it'll just be a long book. I made sure that I put unedited on the top of the document, just to remind myself I still think this book is long and doesn't quite keep the reader's full interest, due to all the background information (although this does prove some character development.) Still to me, not good enough till looked over and edited thoroughly. Thanks again.
     
  10. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Glad to help. :)
     
  11. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Sounds to me as if the 'main story' is not the war, but about what caused the war to happen. Nothing wrong with this at all. Once a war starts, it's all about battles, tactics, etc. Reading about these things can be exciting, but doesn't give a complete picture.

    What if all we knew about WW2 was the story of battles, wins, losses, Germans advancing, retreating, etc. That's only a small window on the entire event. If you were writing a novel about WW2, I very much doubt it would only be about battles, wins and losses.

    I think you're right. Finish the entire book. Then give yourself some distance, maybe get a few people to read your first draft, then start to focus on what you've actually created. I think you might discover your real story is not about the 'war,' but about what caused the war. And, of course, what happens when the war is finished.

    I hope you're creating strong characters to take your ideas through the piece. Their personal stories are the key to reader involvement.
     
  12. JohnSmith52
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    JohnSmith52 New Member

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    I couldn't finish The Shining because I thought it was too slow. Is your plot as slow as that?
     
  13. slamdunk
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    slamdunk Member

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    Its hard to tell without being able to read the actual text. Maybe your story is interesting even without the war, its impossible to tell from here.

    Have someone else look at your text would be my suggestion. It can be a family member or friend who you trust to start with, politely ask them if they want to read and give you some feedback.
     
  14. DischargedKombat
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    DischargedKombat Member

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    I second this. Actually, the reason the war hasn't started is because I needed a few check-ups between the past of a main character. The person is so enigmatic that I feel he needs to break a shell. This is why things have been taking long.

    Edit: Another thing I would like to add? Ironically the title sounds more like a something that was going to start something, rather than something that has already started. Example: the title being named "Spark," rather than "Conflagration." I once read a article that told me that "Be prepared to FIND the story, not to FORCE the story you think you have... You will delete much more than you write, and you should." I never really understood that, but if you take it pretty literal, it makes sense... Basically, its saying that editing will do the job later, and for now just write your heart out. I'm such a worry sometimes I guess!
     
  15. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    In a way Cog's right and in a way he's wrong. Most plots have already been written, so in that case he's correct about it not being the most important item. However, on the other hand, it helps to have one. Very few people are Ursula McGuinn (not sure if I've spelled her last name right) and can write four hundred pages of lofty prose that wins an award while not having a plot. So, yes, there's a place for that.

    The quality of the writing, and where you're starting is the most important part. If you're opening a novel, then starting where there's some action is important in catching an agent's eye. And when I mean action I don't mean blowing things up, etc etc. There are action openings and active openings. and I HIGHLY recommend writers read up on and learn how they work. In fact, it probably wouldn't hurt to practice them on the side. With that said, the active opening will catch an agent's eye more than the action "bang bang" type.

    You're speaking of 200k words. Are you doing a David Weber and spending a chunk of space recapping what happened before? That's become his biggest issue in the 'Honor Harrington' series over the past 4-5 novels and his sales are suffering from it. If you're writing a series, it's better to have each novel be self contained and able to stand on it's own. I have two with my ensemble cast. When writing the second, I made references to events that happened in the first, but didn't recap them. A mention here, a mention there gets the idea across and will make a reader want to see the earlier one to make sense.

    Another issue that could be happening is the amount of description in the story. That could be wracking up the word count and slowing the pace down at the same time. So, is your plot too slow? Hard to say without reading the story.
     
  16. DischargedKombat
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    DischargedKombat Member

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    All of my books stand alone. This is the second book. I don't recap anything. Actually, I never like recapping. I think what I was trying to establish here was that the books I see tend to read have gone over the 400 page mark and already have a well established main plot. In some stories, at 400, the climax is beginning. I am coming to learn that my plot might not be the war. And I have solved this by doing what I said I was going to do: write my heart out and edit later. Editing isn't as easy as doing it well the first time; I know this from prior experience. But at this point, my story seems to need such a route.

    Also, I have learned that it is better to spam description and to take it out later, rather than to add none at all, or have slim to none. This suggestion is for people who struggle with the balance.
     
  17. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    That is so true! I think it's why forums like these are not very helpful for novelists (as opposed to short-story writers, poets, etc, who can post their entire pieces for critique.)

    It's tempting to show what you're working on, but until it's all finished, you won't actually know what you've got! Allowing critics to pick at your word choices, or pass judgement on which characters and details are important before you've actually revealed your entire story is a mistake. It makes you doubt your vision, and stalls your progress.

    Just get it written. Then, a new phase of fun begins!
     

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