1. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    Worried my novel might be too fast paced...

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Jonp, Apr 10, 2011.

    Right now, I am 160 pages into my fantasy novel. Length is not the issue, because I have enough content for the entire thing, but I am concerned that it might be moving too fast. A lot of my early chapters are rather short. The first 1/4 of the book (pretty much what I've done so far) is all a journey, travelling, meeting people, so the location changes quite a bit.

    I'm also worried that right now all the things that happen on the journey, the little distractions and side-adventures, seem too disconnected (they all have importance later in the book, but then I'm unsure if I should give them more focus when I introduce them).

    Example: The two main characters encounter a creature in a farmhouse. The creature has the ability to make them hallucinate normality while it feeds off their energy. In the chapter (which is 5 and a bit pages in my well-spaced font and formatted to a standard paperback size) they live in the hallucination world (having first encountered it at the end of the previous chapter), discover what is happening and escape. The next chapter is all about the fallout of this event, but when I think it over in my head, I think an outsider would see it as just a bunch of unconnected events, and maybe there will be far too long between the introduction and the tying into the plot.

    I hope that makes sense. For a writer I had real trouble wording my thoughts on this :S
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    If it is a first draft don't worry too much - however little things like adding in dialogue beats, body language and description can help slow it down.
     
  3. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Your plot is moving along, so write and don't worry. If it seems too flat later, you can beef it up in revision.
     
  4. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    I understand how you're feeling, and like Mallory and Elgaima said, the first draft will be blurred at first, and when you re-write, it will get better. This doesn't mean that the event in the next chapter is important. You may need to find a way to convince the readers why that chapter is important.

    The example you gave us, about two main characters are encountering a problem when they enter the farmhouse. This creature is the problem, right? And you feel that the next chapter or even this chapter is disconnecting, right? Here is what I would do if you feel that the chapters are either forced, slow paced, or isn't important at all.

    Each of your chapters should have a purpose for your readers and move the story forward, and you will need to give your readers a purpose for the main characters entering the farmhouse to begin with. Maybe it could be something that you wanted to get out, or it could be to stop the creature that has the ability to hallucinate normality, and trying to stop him from hallucinating reality.

    The second question I would ask myself is why do you need this plot to take place? By answering this question is to let the readers know that it is important for them to understand what the main characters need to do in the scene. It could be that they wanted to save another character from the farm house, or you have a friend who is already hallucinated, and by stopping the creature, your important friend would no longer be hallucinated. (It's just an example, but it could be a bad one).

    The next question I would ask is if this scene tells us something new about the main character or creature you told us about. If you don't have this answer in mind, your readers would feel that the scene is less captivating than you expected.

    The next question I would ask myself, is rather the main character has a goal in this chapter. And what is the motivation behind the goal (maybe the goal is that they want to defeat the creature, and the motivation is that it will break the hallucinating realitly once they defeat the creature).

    And the last question I would ask myself is if there are future consequences the main character will face for defeating the creature (that is if they are planning on doing this, and I'm not saying that the character wants to defeat your creature, because I don't really know what your book is about).

    With the next chapter in mind, you feel is disconnected. I would see if I could answer any of these questions. The purpose of this post is to analyze the structure of your plot, and not what the plot is actually about. It has worked for me, because I had to remove a very important scene, and my book still flows well. The important scene was about the main character entering his mother's house, and his brother, who is dead, stands next to him (he comes back as an angel). His mother doesn't want to tell him that he is dead, because it's too soon. And then he leaves the house as the main character sees him walking down the street. He tries to catch up with him until hsi brother took a sharp turn on a corner. This scene had no purpose because the readers already knew in chapter one that his brother is dead, and the readers aren't learning anything new about the main character or his brother.

    And like Elagaisma said, you don't need to worry about the structure of the story until you are done with the rough draft of your story, then I would analze the scene and see if any of the questions on here can be answered. I hope this helps a little bit.
     
  5. NateSean
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    NateSean Active Member

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    I always turn to manga for this kind of problem. I too get into trouble with something either being too fast paced, or two events not having anything to do with each other. In manga, the only words I have to focus on are the dialogue bubbles and the rest I can imagine describing in words if I had to.

    In one one chapter of the manga I'm currently hooked on, Muhyo and Roji, Muhyo sends Roji back to school to brush up on how to be more useful in the field of Magic Law. Roji is confused and feels rejected, but in the next chapter, we see the struggle he goes through and we learn what it is that Roji has been failing to do in the previous chapters.

    This lesson carries itself into the later chapters and we see that Roji has grown up a bit as a result of the experience.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you shouldn't be counting pages, only words...
     
  7. AJSmith
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    AJSmith Senior Member

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    This is interesting... I always looked at pages before I joined this forum. I noticed everyone spoke in terms of words, so I too began looking at it that way. Is it just because it is more universally understood?
     
  8. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    I normally try to make the pages of my book/movie scripts as short as possible by removing the unecessary words. I think the shorter the quantity is, the better the quality.
     
  9. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Yes and no. I think both are handy, though typically an agent/editor/publisher will want word count first, as they can then gauge the general white-space usage by looking at the manuscript, and even change it if they want in editing. It's also what most contests and publications give as a benchmark.

    People refer to word count as if it's some holy grail, but depending on writing styles, the same word count can read very differently and have vastly different lengths depending on the style of the writer. A low word count story can have a lot of dialog and white space and read in a way that feels too fast, or even rushed, but still take up more pages than a higher word-count manuscript that has huge, dense paragraphs without much dialog or white space.

    Pace is more an effect of style and technique, than word count. In fact, I don't think there's any link at all between pace and word count, but others may disagree.

    So yeah, word count is the first number an agent/editor/publisher generally wants and something you'll need to know, but it's certainly not the only thing that factors into length and readability.
     
  10. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    But not just because it's shorter, right? Quality and quantity are different. Managing to tell the story just as effectively with less words is something I wish all writers would strive for, though, definitely.
     
  11. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    I mean, the content of the book doesn't have to be short, but how it is written (the words) can be though. I am just in the planning stage of my story right now, and I am looking forward in seeing how well it goes.
     
  12. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    Thanks for the advice everyone. And I'm currently sitting at just under 29,000 words.

    Edit: I usually say pages because it's easier to picture and more impressive when I'm telling people how my book is coming along. It's an ego thing.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's because that's what the industry demands... agents and publishers will only want a rounded-off word count...

    they don't want number of pages because first of all, the publisher will decide what font to use and how to style the book, and that can make a significant difference in how many words will fit on the page, thus affecting the page count...

    if your ego requires a high page count, you could be putting only 100 words on each page... so no one can really tell how much you've actually written, when you say how many pages you've churned out... but the word count will be the same no matter how many are on each page...

    if you want to feel/sound like a pro, mention word count when you brag, not pages... ;-)
     
  14. Wasp
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    You're 160 pages in and it's only 1/4th of the whole thing? If you're trying to get this published, a 640+ page book would be a risk. Maybe if you divided it into 2 books?

    If it's full pages of words on standard printing paper in Word, it would also actually be about two times more pages in actual book format.
     
  15. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    For me it's when my friends (non-writers) ask how my book is coming along. Telling them it's 29000 words doesn't really mean as much because it's hard to picture without picturing pages. That's all.
    I've formatted the pages to a common paperback size, and the font I changed it to recently made it a bit longer, and I'm only 1/4 of the way in in my head, when actually writing it I have no idea how long it will end up.
     
  16. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think when you talk about writing with people who doesn't write themselves (amazingly not everyone does :rolleyes:) mentioning word count won't give them a clue as they probably have never given a thought on how many words there are on a page (not even that is a given answer, I know), so telling the page count gives a better frame of reference, it's easier to understand, while saying "today I wrote 5000 words" they won't know much that actually IS, or even if it's a lot or just a little.

    SDIT: oops, we wrote the same thing. :D
     
  17. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    As a condensed version of what mammamaia said, the reason why people prefer to measure word count over page count is because WC is more consistent/reliable: for example, you could write 500 words -- which is about one full page in size 12 Times New Roman -- and use size 72 with a huge font, expanding those 500 words to 20 pages. When someone says they've written 20 pages, you expect much more than 500 words.
     
  18. Wasp
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    Wasp Member

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    Not everyone has MS Word on hand
     
  19. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    Does anyone here think that word counts matter for a script writer? I know this sounds like a stupid question to ask.
     
  20. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    I would say no. Scripts are pretty standardised in terms of font and size, so they stick to the one page = roughly one minute rule.
    In fact, I would say you want to keep the word count as low as possible. Your descriptions need to be succinct and to the point, and the dialogue should be however long you want.
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    definitely not!... i mentor aspiring screenwriters and the only measure they go by in the industry is the page total... the current optimum is 110... and the rule of thumb is 1 page = 1 minute of running time...

    yes, unknown newbie spec script writers must write 'lean and clean'... but dialog should not be 'however long you want'...

    the verboten 'too much black' for either the action/description element or dialog can get a script tossed unread... dialog should not run more than 5 lines without a break of some kind... that can be a 'bit of business' as a parenthetical, or a line of action...

    if you want help learning the craft, or with something you're working on, reggie, feel free to drop me a line any time...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  22. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    By "as long as you want" I didn't mean have character ramble on without a break, I just meant I wouldn't try and trim down their dialogue more than is necessary just to reduce word count.
     
  23. Azeher
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    When you throw a bunch of seemingly disconnected events that will most likely make the reader feel lost and overwhelmed, the best thing you can do is to give hints like every five chapters about how those event are indeed connected. It will make clear to th reader you know what you're doing and get them back to the reading, now more excited to discover what's actually going on and what will happen.
     
  24. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ok, jon... sorry for the confusion...
     

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