August 7th, 2015

BrainUnderRepair

Writing Excuses 10.31: How Do I Control the Reader's Sense of Progress?

Writing Excuses 10.31: How Do I Control the Reader's Sense of Progress?

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2015/08/02/writing-excuses-10-31-how-do-i-control-the-readers-sense-of-progress/

Key points: Pacing controls the flow of time and the progress of your characters towards their goals. Progress is an illusion that you control. You want an illusion of difficult progress toward a goal to create a satisfying ending. To control the reader's perception of progress, control the character's perception of progress. When characters feel as if they are moving, readers see progress. Characters that are trapped are boring. There's plot progress, and then there's things happening, even if they aren't advancing the plot. Be cautious of things happening. Keep it interesting, and let the reader know why. Scenes should serve more than one function. A sense of progress toward a goal is critical. Make sure you know the promises that a reader is looking for, and that you are making progress on one of those promises. What effect does the reader expect your book to have? That's the tone promise -- mystery, excitement, romance, etc. The other promise is what the reader will see happen. Tone affects expectations about promises. For pacing, match your progress to your promises. 
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[Brandon] Excellent. Dan, you've got our homework this week. You were going to talk about a magnified moment.
[Dan] Absolutely. This is an exercise that I use when I talk about suspense and how to write suspense. But it applies really well to this sense of progress. The idea is that the amount of time you dedicate to a topic can signal to your readers how important that topic is. So what I want you to do is you're going to write someone gets out of bed, walks across the floor, and opens the door. But you're going to take at least two pages to do that. You have to dig deep into all of the senses. What are they hearing? What are they... What noise are they making or trying not to make? The amount of detail you put into that can signal all by itself that something incredibly tense is happening, because otherwise, he would just walk across to the door. The fact that we are taking two pages to do it is going to add so much weight.
[Howard] I already want to know what's behind the door. Jerk!
[Brandon] This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.
[Squeaky] I'm behind the door, Howard. He-he-he!
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