1. zilly
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    zilly Senior Member

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    Pace and Progression

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by zilly, Feb 25, 2011.

    I've written a children's book (although there is a lot of revising that needs done still). It's a short story with only 24k words broken into 30 chapters. So, the chapters are pretty short, even for a children's book.

    I want to know if it starts out too slow, so I'll give a brief outline.

    The first chapter introduces the focal character and some necessary details for the mystery.

    The second chapter is entirely there to set up a fairy tale ending and involves neither main character.

    The third chapter introduces the main character.

    The fourth and fifth chapters chronicle an adventure by the main character and introduce a group of antagonists that drive the plot/conflict.

    The sixth chapter sets up for the main character and focal character to meet, and, then, finally, in the seventh chapter the two meet.

    I don't think that is too slow, but the problem is this:

    Because of the focal character's personality, the two don't "get along" at first. So, the next three chapters are about the main character's journey to win over the focal character.

    So, that's 10 chapters, 1/3rd of the book, just getting the two together. Then, it takes the next 5 chapters to get the conflict and mystery really going.

    So, from my point of view, it seems that only half of the story is the juicy part that children really enjoy. But, then I think of how slowly Harry Potter begins--and how massively successful it is--and think that I don't have much to worry about.

    What do you think?

    Thanks,
     
  2. chacotaco91
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    chacotaco91 Senior Member

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    Its much easier, in my opinion, to make a novel too short than too long. As you said yourself: Harry Potter is widely succesful, and I find alot of those books to have an extreme amount of filler and are vastly too long for the readership its aiming for.

    To me, a book can be 1000 pages for all I care; length is merely something that I've felt is relative to the amount of plot your trying to tell us. For instance, if your character's story involves going to multiple planets and meeting a dozen unique characters, then 1000 pages seems legitimate. On the other hand, if you have 1000 pages entirely consisting of one mans journey from his house to his grandmothers house in the next state, I'll consider it probably alot of filler and fluff.

    So the only thing I could think, is that is it necessary to have 3 seperate chapter devoted entirely to developing a single relationshiop? Would it not be possible to fit this into two chapters or merely spread out this relationship buildup throughout a wider portion of the book?
    Also, I'm not sure why you'd think children wouldn't enjoy to beginning buildup, as it seems in my opinion that its usually the tension of whats going to happen next and not so much the climax that drives people into a story. Child or no child.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's no way to tell if it will work without reading it...
     
  4. zilly
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    zilly Senior Member

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    You're right. The Tale of Despereaux would appear to have a horrible plot outline, but it worked very well for the story.

    That being said, I just didn't like that outline. I decided to merge together a bunch of the beginning chapters and shorten it to 20 chapters.

    Now, they meet in chapter 5 (1/4), get together in chapter 7 (1/3) and are deep into the mystery by chapter 10 (1/2) as opposed to before when it was just really starting at that point.

    I think that, in general, this is just a better progression.

    The one problem (I'll fix it after I finish) is that I merged three chapters in the beginning into one and effectively made three decent chapters into one bleh chapter. But, I'll spice it up later. And, even if it ends up boring, the chapters are short and it's all stuff that needs to happen, so I think it's worth it. Not to mention, tons of books have that one chapter. Harry Potter books usually have a couple of that one chapters.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'that one' just better not be the first!... if you fail to hook the readers from the get-go, they're not gonna keep reading to find out if it gets any better...
     
  6. zilly
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    zilly Senior Member

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    Right, I hope the first one isn't bad, but the one I'm speaking of is the third.

    I've been reading tons of chapter books to get a better understanding of how the good ones have started. It's tough because my story is highly symbolic like Bridge to Terabithia and that starts slowly, but I want it to be much faster paced because it's also an adventure/mystery.

    But, I'm not going to worry about it too much more until I finish it and look at the whole thing completed. The Tale of Despereaux has a very slow start and it works fine.
     

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