?

how fast do your plots advance?

  1. too fast

    10 vote(s)
    52.6%
  2. too slow

    5 vote(s)
    26.3%
  3. just right

    4 vote(s)
    21.1%
  1. eccentric_m
    Offline

    eccentric_m Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2007
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Riverside, California

    plot advancement and writing pace.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by eccentric_m, Sep 1, 2007.

    Hi. Im new here, and I was just wondering if anyone else has problems with pacing their plot and what they do to fix it. You see, my writing style is flawed because my plots advance way too fast. I am very good at describing key events, but I dont put enough description in the transitions between them. I have always written like this, so I often find myself filling in the "boring" parts during revision. So what about you? Do you go too fast or too slow and how do you fix it?
     
  2. Daniel
    Offline

    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

    Joined:
    May 14, 2006
    Messages:
    2,571
    Likes Received:
    402
    Location:
    Peoria, Illinois
    This is a very good question - and something I have an issue with myself. My plot oftentimes advances too fast - I end up writing in 15,000 words what should take 50,000. I just move from event to event in the story much too quickly. I've tried writing slower, but then it's too slow and I end up loosing interest.

    I think what we should really ask those who've had this issue is: how did you overcome it?

    By the way, moved this thread to the correct forum.
     
  3. Domoviye
    Offline

    Domoviye Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Messages:
    1,369
    Likes Received:
    21
    Location:
    Proud Canadian. Currently teaching in Nanjing, Chi
    For my current audience, most of my plots move too slow. But they're used to horror and mayhem happening on the first page, as monsters attack, while I like to spend the first little bit building up suspense, and background.
    So I need to change my audience.
     
  4. bluejt2000
    Offline

    bluejt2000 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2007
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    4
    In a word - plan!

    Scene cards (or files) are a good way to do this as you can develop your story scene by scene with notes as to characters involved, action, setting, etc., and easily rearrange them if necessary. And if there are any gaps or awkward transitions then you can simply devise a new scene and insert it.

    There are many other ways to plan a novel but this one works for me. The amount of notes required depends on the individual. I make very few for some scenes but lots for others, especially if research is required, but I always write them in narrative form so that they can be cut and pasted into the first draft.

    Perhaps, though, you're someone who recoils at the thought of planning and prefers to write by the seat of their pants? If so, then one can sympathise with but not help you.

    Lastly, don't fill in 'boring' parts during revision - get rid of them. If you find the writing of them boring then how do you think they will affect a reader?
     
  5. Weaselword
    Offline

    Weaselword Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    5
    My answer is to build my story in layers. I do it like painting a picture.

    Do you know how oil paintings are done? It's quite a good analogy, I think.

    It's extremely hard to paint a good oil painting by starting in the top left hand corner and working your way down to the bottom right in one single sweep. I find that virtually impossible to do with a story.

    An oil painting usually starts with a charcoal sketch on white canvas. For me, that's the first draft of my story; usually less than 25% of the final length, just the skeleton of something that might, one day, be good.

    These first drafts of mine tend to contain lots of bits in curly brackets: "{That scene with the condom full of beer goes here}", or "{Describe the character here}", or "It was as quiet as a {simile that doesn't involve rodents or graves}". I'll also tend to have characters called {Protagonist}, {Antagonist} or even {Walk-on Number Seven}.

    Basically the idea is to get through the first draft from start to finish and use the curly brackets to finesse all the bits that I can't quite think of at the moment.

    Then in an oil painting, there's an underpainting, usually done in sepia washes. There's no colour at this stage, the painter's just working out where the light and shadow goes on the shapes. My equivalent of the underpainting is to go back over the story in the second draft and fill in some of the curly brackets. Not usually all of them, though, if I can't find the words for something I won't sweat it. Quite a lot of the curly brackets get deleted and replaced with nothing.

    Then in an oil painting, the painter will put the colours on. I revise for plot, making sure that everything that's important at the end is foreshadowed in the beginning, and cutting any foreshadowing that isn't important at the end.

    Then in an oil painting, the painter will add highlights and shadow. I revise for character. At this point any still-unnamed characters get named (using a global find/replace in Word), they get distinctive dialogue and physical descriptions where necessary and so on.

    Then in an oil painting, the painter will add detail. Personally I go through and find all the bits where I've forgotten the "show don't tell" rule (there are usually lots of them).

    ... and so on. There are going to be revisions for spelling and grammar, "oops" revisions where you, um, paint out the bits that don't work, and so on.

    The last revision is where I stick it in a sealed envelope, write the date on the seal, and file it. I leave it untouched and unread for one month. (If I open the seal, my month has to start again).

    In a month, I open it again and go through with a red pen cutting every unnecessary word. If I still love the story when I've done that, I'm ready to show it to people.
     
  6. Scavenger
    Offline

    Scavenger Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2007
    Messages:
    178
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Colorado
    Funny, Weasleword and I have about the same time commitment to a piece, but we set up our writing in a completely different manner. I've hardly ever written more than two drafts of a story before I was pleased with it, but that's because I have everything planned out so thoroughly beforehand. Also, this way I make sure that my plot does not move too fast or too slow (though it does tend to go too fast anyway because I'm so horrible at filler material), because I know what should happen in what sequence and I can stick with that.

    I start with a very rough outline. Never more than a page, usually about a half-page. This details the time/setting of the piece, the beginning, the end result, sometimes the theme, and anything really important that happens in the middle.

    Next, I begin the Master List. This is a massive list of every single character used in the piece, along with a very brief description of who they are, so I don't lose track. For example:

    I've put them under the sub-category of student, given them their names, three adjectives, who they're friends with/related to, and their year in school. This way, I can just glance at the list if I ever need a filler character, or if I've forgotten something about one of them. It is by no means a comprehensive file, and definitely should not be completed in one setting, but rather improved upon and adjusted as you get into the story more.

    Next, there's a bit of a fork. I either start my major character outlines, or my major storyboard. Often, I end up doing them congruently. Character outlines are for the main characters, or those who need significant backstory. You can make your own, or use one of the millions available when you Google "character questionnaire." Storyboards I usually organize by chapter, detailing major events as well as cool lines or dialogue that I've thought up, and, depending on the length of the piece, cna become quite lengthy. This is good, as it's what you'll be referring back to constantly to make sure you stay on track. Also, the length of the outline for each chapter should give you a good idea of the actual length of the story - if a ten different things happen, then it shouldn't be a page long when you actually write it.

    You may also choose to make a timeline, which can be extremely helpful if a lot of time passes in the piece, or if you're particularly scatterbrained and have trouble keeping track of where you are "in reality." Timelines can be as vague as "a few weeks later," or, if you're like me, written down to the day of the week and the hour of the day. It depends on how well you can keep track of time, and how much you need to.

    Once you've done all this, you usually have an excellent view of what your story will be and how it gets from a to b to c and back to a again. This, in turn, leads to good "time management" and even pacing of the piece. It also helps with finiding inconsistencies and filling in blanks where you've run out of plot or ideas. Once you start writing, now, you should be able to move along fairly quickly and with little trouble.

    Cheers.
     
  7. eccentric_m
    Offline

    eccentric_m Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2007
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Riverside, California
    I think the main thing that contributes to the speed of my stories is the fact that I dont start writing with a whole plot in mind, but rather a situation that develops as I go along. Once it all plays out in the first draft, which I like to call the "skeleton" because it is almost pure narration, I then go back and fluff it up with lots of description and dialog. After that, I check for errors and inconsistencies, while removing anything unnecessary. So I guess it is pretty similar to weasel's method.
     
  8. debbiepanell
    Offline

    debbiepanell Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2007
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    NC
    I find my first draft is almost always pretty short. With each subsequent revision, parts get cut out, but others added - resulting in a longer manuscript each time.

    My problem is by the time I have a novel that might actually be ready to submit to agents or publishers, I've gotten sick of it and think its garbage and delete it all. Bad habit! I don't recommend it!

    I actually just emailed my mom asking if she had a copy of a manuscript I sent her a year or so ago. Hopefully she replies with an attachment! :)
     
  9. Funny Bunny
    Offline

    Funny Bunny Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2007
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    6
    I just joined the board so this is my first post. I have a similar problem. I have tried to develop character interests (built into each character) which make boring parts interesting. When not working on plot, you should work on character. This "interest" allows the reader to see into the mental landscape of the character. I remember this sort of technique was used in at least with one character "The Constant Gardner" (obsession with gardening) and also "Cold Mountain" (obsession with a particular book about local flora and fauna) and also "The English Patient," (obsession with a common-place-book). Sub plots are also very important to the sorts of books I like. I figure each person should have their own little plot, even if it is just a small one.
     
  10. lawliet
    Offline

    lawliet New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    In front of my mac
    Um, I actually never ran into that problem in my writing, but my advice would still be to be careful not to ‘fill’ slow parts of a story with something that is boring to you.

    Imagine how boring it will be for the reader…

    If there is something that you don’t enjoy writing, don’t put it in the story. If you then still think the pacing in your story is wrong, maybe – like Domoviye said – you need to rethink who your audience is. Forcing your story to be something it is not never works out well.
     
  11. Funny Bunny
    Offline

    Funny Bunny Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2007
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    6
    By boring, I mean non action ordinary living, like for instance "love stuff" or chats with grandmother or meeting with the president whatever might actually have importance to the plot. If it is not blowing up, it slows it down. I've seen a lot of stories that read like the back of a soap box here and on other writing sights. My eyes roll back in my head and I sink into a coma reading much of what others consider "not-boring." Believe me, it is.
     
  12. azr9
    Offline

    azr9 New Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2007
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    my stories are to fast, im writing a story now that goes against my previous ways in the sense that it is slower paced and will have some back bone to it, such as chacter description, detail, and dialouge, etc....

    it feels like it would be a challenge.
    The story and its updates will be posted on my blog, (finally they have a use besides for crying!)
    if anyone is interested

    ill probably drop by this topic a few more times, good topic!
     
  13. eccentric_m
    Offline

    eccentric_m Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2007
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Riverside, California
    I have tendency to do that too. Its all a matter of momentum for me. I cant stop writing for too long, or else I will lose interest and move on to something else.
     

Share This Page