1. CrimsonAngel

    CrimsonAngel Senior Member

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    Pacing Problems

    Discussion in 'Novels' started by CrimsonAngel, Nov 20, 2020.

    How do you write a story and control the pacing of it, I want the beginning of my story to start of slow with exposition (but not too much) I decided that I probably should write the rest of the chapters as much but the main problem I have is with chapter 1. Can someone help me out here?
     
  2. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Staff Contributor

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    Pacing is a two-way problem.

    First you have the storywide pacing that controls how readers view your story in its entirety. You mentioned this part already, in that you said that you want the beginning to be slow. Easing readers in is (in my view) good in that you give them time to get invested in your world before getting to the more actiony parts. The key here is even though you want to start slow, you need to give readers—in the first page or so—a hint that things are not as clear cut as they seem. Maybe your MC has internal inconsistencies (i.e. conflicting needs and wants, a dissatisfying job and troubles at home because of it)? If so, show these things as early as possible. Then the reader won't mind a little exposition and slow writing, because he/she will want to find out what happens to resolve those difficulties.

    The second pacing is the way you structure your paragraphs and use stylistic choices to speed up and slow down. Long sentences (multiple compound sentences, alliterations, similes and such) versus short ones and stubs (grammatically not correct sentences because a pronoun is missing though be sparse with those if you must use them!) that infer quickly passing time.

    You can and should use both of these pacings to set the pace.
     
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  3. IasminDragon

    IasminDragon Member

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    Pacing is the unseen skill of writing and it's a tricky one to master.

    You need to break down your story into its key events and decide which parts need to be written slowly and which parts need to pick up. Things need to happen and there has to be a build up of tension.

    Exposition is not an attractive pull for your average reader. A story needs to have drive to keep people invested which typically means a character to root for and a motivation for readers to follow.
     
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  4. rick roll rice

    rick roll rice New Member

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    I try to think of every stories as a performance. There's narrator and there's audience. And instead of thinking about the narrator, I try to explore more who's the audience and their relationship with the narrator and why the narrator tells his or her story in the first place.

    Also pertinent for a beginner like me, how do the narrator keep his or her audience's attention?

    I found if I wrote with just the hazily notions of audience, like premise on first draft, my earlier drafts pacing sound roughly okay for me.

    Of course there are three timelines to think about. There's time when story takes place, time when story is told, and time when story is recorded. But for my own sanity check, being a beginner, I simply make telling time and recording time converge.

    I don't know if this would help though, writers have their own processes after all, which might not working for others.
     
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  5. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Staff Contributor

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    The way I think about a story is in terms of rising and falling tension. If you visualise it as a graph, the story's arch should look roughly like this:

    story_tension.jpg
    Image taken from https://fcmalby.com/tag/fiction-writing/

    In between the high peaks, there should be lots of lower peaks when your MCs encounter difficulties, negotiate with adversaries or find allies. When they make new friends this is also a lower peak. You go from peak to low to peak again, so the audience has a reason to look forward to what happens next.
     
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  6. IasminDragon

    IasminDragon Member

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    That's a really great way to visualise it! Thanks for sharing @Lifeline :)
     
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  7. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Staff Contributor

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    Just to note that not every story has the same kind of highs at the same time. In the above graph, the midpoint high is lots higher than the climax—which might or might not fit to your story.

    Don't fall into the pit of adopting 'the wisdom of the ages' as always right. Bloggers may or may not have the same structure as your story has. Adapt and go forward with what your story is instead of theirs and you can't go wrong.
     
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  8. montecarlo

    montecarlo Member

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    For an example of a well done slow pace, I recommend act one of Strangers by Dean Koontz.
     
  9. CrimsonAngel

    CrimsonAngel Senior Member

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    Do you mind if I copy and paste this to my word doc? I need it for reference.
     
  10. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Staff Contributor

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    Be my guest :)

    There are tons of articles and blogs on pacing on the web. They're probably explaining the concept better than I do.
     
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  11. Aceldama

    Aceldama Senior Member

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    I always overwrite. I see pacing though half through the perspective of the reader and half what I consider just common writing sense. You don't want to blurt out everything in a paragraph and you also don't want to drag on a singular event or idea through 2 or 3 chapters if it isnt a plot thread. I liken it to foreplay. Have to find the sweet spot.

    Best thing to do is just get started. Get an idea, whether small or big, and start writing. Ideas comes slower or faster to some than others but they will come just write. Get stuck then brainstorm, watch something or listen to something to get inspired and write more. Find how you pace and how you want your story to play out.
     
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