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?

THE NAMING OF THINGS.

Charming My Name!

Charming My Name! (Photo credit: jpellgen)

What do you call a forty-year old Gypsy who doesn’t exist, how about an abdicated queen with a sweet tooth or an assassin who never kills anyone?

Don’t know? – That makes two of us… (If you do know, suggestions welcome in the comments section. Full credit will be given in the book.)

The stories themselves are not an issue. Plots, themes and concepts tend to present themselves daily (I’m not gloating). It’s harder to keep track of them than to come up with them. There is always the part remembered good idea as you fall off to sleep. The plausible bridge in how a character has developed comes as your wrestling with early morning traffic both hands occupied and your notebook nowhere in sight.  I often find it difficult to reach for them again, as they fade into the other mental detritus of a work day or get overwritten by a new dream before waking.

But oh, for a name……. Why is it not so simple? My WIP now consists of a novel (nameless, half the characters called person a, b, etc.), two short stories (not so nameless but the characters don’t like their monikers: x. y and z). I thought I had found the perfect name for the book the other day only to discover that Ray Bradbury had got there first. Damn, those iconic fantasy authors with their striking and memorable titles!

Perhaps it’s because I have always associated characteristics with names. In my head, a “Jane” or a “John” acts like personal experiences made flesh. Any other traits or emotional effects/defects seem out of character somehow. Like there is a frozen vision of Jane, residing in my brain and now all beings bearing that appellation have to fit with my mental image.

I read a funny review the other day, where the reader had loved the book but couldn’t give it five stars because one of the characters is Kevin, and they didn’t think it was a proper name for a medieval swords and sorcery fantasy… I wonder what the Author was thinking when picking that name? – Crap, I’ve used all the unpronounceable ones, sod it, let’s just call him Kev? I’m surprised he wasn’t a “Dave”, after all, everyone knows someone called Dave or so the story goes.

So what is it about names and titles that resonates so strongly. More importantly how do you name?… Is it a flash of inspiration the name appearing in your mind’s eye? Do they look like a “Insert Name” in your head?

Comments as always, welcome.