1. RaggedyZandi
    Offline

    RaggedyZandi New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    1

    Struggling with pacing

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by RaggedyZandi, Sep 25, 2015.

    I have a story that I have just started and am very excited about because its been years since I have been inspired to write. My biggest problem at the moment is that I have started the story with the character aged five, and I want to get a good bit of character development and story in before her seventh birthday (which is where I know most about what I want to write.) I have her having a wonderful fifth birthday in the midst of a generally hard life, and being given a kitten. I have a couple of years to fill in before the story in my head can properly start, and at the moment I feel like I'm fluffing around. I quite like what I've written so far, but I am not sure where to go. It seems like, after such a good day, there should be a pretty hard blow dealt, to give some up and down to the plot and allow for character development, but I cant seem to bring myself to upset the happy tone. Its not even meant to be an especially happy story.

    Okay, I guess what I'm asking is, how do you, personally, fill out the opening to a story before you can get to the meat, the scene in your head that inspired you to start the story? Because honestly I cant start the story at the seventh birthday, there needs to be too much explained.
     
  2. RaggedyZandi
    Offline

    RaggedyZandi New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    1
    Do I have her cruel father kill the kitten? After going on and on about how happy it made her? I didn't even plan to give her a kitten, it just happened, and she (and I) are in love with it. It seems like the logical thing to do, at this point, to bring home how awful her father is and to get a solid low after a really happy scene. But god, I really don't want to kill her kitten. Surely there would be people who would just stop reading if I did..
     
  3. xanadu
    Offline

    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    Messages:
    552
    Likes Received:
    407
    Location:
    Cave of Ice
    You obviously know your story better than I do, but I'd immediately question this statement. I think we often feel the need as writers to overshare with the reader, fearing that she or he will get lost or confused if we let go of his or her hand. I know I certainly did as a new writer (and even as a not-new writer). But the problem is that mystery is a good thing. I've found, over the years, that the more I leave background details out, the more immediate and interesting my scenes become. If you're worried about the reader not knowing all the backstory before jumping into the meat, I'd suggest reconsidering. Leave it out. Then, once you've finished your story, have some other people read it and see if they're really as confused as you think they'll be.

    As far as killing the kitten, it depends. Events in a story should have a purpose. Stories aren't just fictionalized versions of real life. Real life is random--stories aren't. Sure, life happens around them, but all that stuff gets taken care of off-screen. The scenes you choose to show need to have a reason for existing, otherwise you're wasting valuable space. If the kitten matters, include the kitten. If killing the kitten sets up future plot events, then kill the kitten. But if the kitten's only role is to stall for time, then I'd suggest excluding the kitten completely. If I read some early scenes involving a kitten (especially if that kitten is killed), I'm going to expect that kitten to matter somewhere down the line.

    Don't discount the value of keeping the reader in the dark. As a reader I don't need to know everything up front--hell, I don't want to know everything up front. Take me for granted a little. Assume I know some things even when I don't. Then give me the clues along the way so I can piece it together. I'm not necessarily a proponent of "first scene must start with action," but I do want a story to get to the point as soon as possible. It's okay to meander, as long as the meandering matters. But if it's a stall tactic, I think it's probably best left on the cutting room floor.

    Best of luck!
     
    Tesoro likes this.
  4. RaggedyZandi
    Offline

    RaggedyZandi New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    1
    That was legitimately helpful advice, and probably something that I really needed to hear. You're right, I have no plans for her kitten in the main story. I can even cannibalize bits that I already wrote in the beginning that it should have. I think I can find a way to summarize the important stuff.
    I'm going to go for a run. I've been struggling through the wrong style for too long, and need to start fresh. Thanks again.
     
    xanadu likes this.
  5. xanadu
    Offline

    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    Messages:
    552
    Likes Received:
    407
    Location:
    Cave of Ice
    Glad I could help. Don't feel beholden to my advice, though. There are as many approaches to writing as there are writers. I like to think I know what I'm talking about, but as I said, you know your story best.

    Best of luck!
     

Share This Page