WHY RHYTHM AND PACE ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT AS CHARACTER. THE RISE AND FALL OF A NOVEL.

Haute Tension

Haute Tension (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tap, tipetty, tap, tippetty, tap, go my feet along to my favorite songs on the MP3 player. Easy as pie, my head hears the beat and my feet they automatically know what to do. Oh dear fates now I am singing along and I have a voice that the local foxes and tomcat would be proud of.

When it involves music, its instinctive, you hear the beat and something in you knows what to do, connects on that cellular level that we are all instinctively looking for when we write. Music moves us, and we don’t have to do a thing……

Writing is different, it takes a lot of shitty firsts just to get the language right and once we’ve completed that and it’s readable we then look to structure. How long is this bad boy? Do I really need 120,000 words to say this or could I use fifty grand instead?

Where do I show? Start as close to the end as possible you say okay, “The End”, doesn’t seem that effective, begging your pardon. Use a hook for every paragraph? Are you fecking kidding me?

Okay, now I am exhausted reading it, so that doesn’t work.

This is my nemesis now, the rise and fall. I am not writing a thriller. So having my characters fall from one calamity to the next every paragraph doesn’t quite suit, I want drama and tension to come through, but I don’t want to manufacture nasty stuff to happen just because everyone tells you that you must have your character in deep doo-doo all the time. I am not sure it’s right.

Tension,is what I am trying to create and then resolution and then further tension, my novel should rise and fall like the ocean, sweeping the reader along with it. Disaster, then climax then build again. I want it believable and musical. I want my readers emotions to travel with them on the journey and whilst some of this is achieved by likeability and hateability of the central characters. A lot of this will happen via the structure and flow.

My perfect reader will be on a journey with my characters towards realisation. Not all my characters make it. In fact many that start the journey will fall and their friends and family will be irrevocably altered by their loss. Some for good and some for ill.

It’s creating that wave-like structure that I am finding the most challenging (along with everything else.) I seem to either have too much happening or too little, it’s such a fine balance.

I’d welcome suggestions from others who’ve struggled with the topic of pacing?

Are there any great craft books, you know of that deal essentially with this topic rather than anything else?

Foetal Writer – My list of baby steps.

fashion faux pas

This is my writing. (Photo credit: Judy **) But I’m working on it 🙂

It’s not all joy and expansive prose when you’re new at this writing schnizzle. Sometimes it just plain sucks. I’ve made a list of all the things I’m good at and all the things I’m struggling with. These are the things where I need to engage the force and shut up and just get on with it!

Good At:-

1. Procrastination. I’m sure that draw needs re-organising, the cat needs feeding and if really in a rut, I may even talk to the husband.

2. Using the words:- Turned, saw, look, looked, began, begin/s, started, while (and whilst, I like to mix things up y’know?), was, had, told, knew and heard.  – I opened Scrivener to see how many words I had in my search list and trust me, – this wasn’t all of them.

3. Editing, because I can’t get past Chapter twenty-two.

4. Fear of finishing (hmm linked to number three above) and the ensuing fear of failure to sell any books because I’ll have to talk to lots of people and be nice and let’s face it the reason I write is because I’m a bit of a depressed loner.

Baby Steps:-

1. Dialogue tags:- I forget the rules and no-one should use that many descriptions of the word said, often with an adverb. I counted seven in one particular piece of dialogue, they sounded like bad thespians rather than characters, she whispered quietly – err DOH!

2. Getting in and out of rooms. My characters seem to get stuck by some invisible force sometimes in doorways or in front of doors. It’s really difficult getting them in and out of blasted rooms.

3. Action:- Now this is the sticky bit. If an arrow pierces a shield the reader knows that it didn’t pierce the person in the next sentence because it’s in the shield. I do this a lot. I’ve taken to watching u-tube action sequences and listening to swordplay. I’m also learning a lot about archery so that I get it right. Especially, because you just know if you don’t know this stuff, someone is going to nicely point out you got it wrong, wrong, wrong….

4. Moving the story on, there’s a lot I need readers to know and whilst I am desperately trying to show not tell, I sometimes do a little too much back story… Mystery is my friend, readers are surprised not, Oh I knew that was going to happen five chapters ago. If they’re still there….

So these are my failures and my top faux pas. What did/do you struggle with?

Comments, as always, welcome.

Secondish Draft. Same scene….

Campfires and hot salty broth have caused Kenrati’s delicate disposition to want to rid himself of the food in the most expedient way. He’s wandered some way from the camp not wanting the others to hear the noises his arse is sure to be making. He makes his way through the trees.

Damn gypsy talking about the world like he owned it. The teachings of the Chantry are clear. Even the oldest ones in the archives with the original scripts from a thousand years after the cataclysm. Who did that old man think he is? The gypsies were not to be trusted. Possessed by Demons half of them, probably. They wouldn’t submit to giving up their children if they had talent. He is surprised the Chantry tolerates it. Something about laws made when the Elanati had assisted in a war some thousands of years ago. They were left to manage their own when it came to the talents.

The world is changing, he smiles to himself and wonders how long before the Chantry manages to overturn the old laws. It’s said that the Gypsies are spreading some sort of plague because of their contact with demons as the talented have no watchers. He stubs a toe on a branch and curses under his breath. He giggles, now the language he just used wasn’t exactly fit for the Chantry either. He looks up between the branches of the trees’ in the clearing and looks for the constellations he learn’t at Black Rock. Master Briggs, had hit their hands with a birch cane if they’d got even one stars name wrong. His memory hadn’t made him popular with the masters or the other students. He shivered lightly. He’d been eight when his parents had left him there. They’d thought him possessed by a Demon, his memory so good he can remember everything he reads and all that is said with a perfect clarity. It is the headaches and the then the terrible fits he’d experienced that made them fearful. That combined with his unpopularity. His active and firm father had thought is strange that Kenrati preferred to read books in the private library and not play outside with the other children.

He’d been hit with that birch cane across his hands and back a few times too, even though he’d never got a single test wrong. Something about teaching him humility. He’d never really been sure why those monks had hit him. Whatever they’d been trying to teach, he could never remember.

For fates sake, the Easenters may use slaves but at least they gave their children up. Made sure the world remained safe from behind the veil. His thoughts have taken him a little further than he’d like but there is nothing for it. He unlaced his trousers pulling at the string fastening, once loose he pushes the soft moleskin fabric down over his thighs and as he crouches he feels his bowels loosen, not a moment too soon.

Relieving himself and sighing loudly he doesn’t notice the form creeping up on him. He’s never listened Kenrati, not to the masters at Black Rock, not to anyone, knows it all. That’s the problem with remembering everything. There’s no room left for anything else. He moans the relief with an audible sigh. A twig snaps and he feels his buttocks clinch.

“I’m straight in front of you.”

Kenrati, frightened, stumbles backwards his derriere landing in the byproducts of his delicate constitution.

“I’ll not keep you long.” Gadrial the gypsy teller is smiling down in the moonlight. As long as Kenrati lives he’ll never want to see that smile again. His bladder gives out, the stream of water adding to the mess.

“Now there’s no need for that,” Gadrial is stood a few feet away, non-chanantly leaning against the bark of a tree. He appears importantly both unarmed and relaxed. This gypsy could do what he likes and get away with it. He is hundred of metres from camp. No one would hear him scream. The question, is what does the gypsy want?

“You’ll be travelling with us a while yet and I want to get a few things straight with you.” Gadrial folds his arms across his chest, appearing thoughtful.

“What are you going to do to me?” Kenrati, squeaks.

“Do?”