August 11th, 2015

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Writing Excuses 10.32: How Do I Control the Speed of the Story?

Writing Excuses 10.32: How Do I Control the Speed of the Story?

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2015/08/09/writing-excuses-10-32-how-do-i-control-the-speed-of-the-story/

Key points: Where do you put your chapter and scene breaks, and what kind of chapter and scene breaks do you use? Through scenes, with continuous action, or scene breaks (aka camera cuts, cut to black, ###)? Think about the effect on the reader -- keep them going, or give them a break for reaction? A break at a cliffhanger raises tension, a break after a revelation gives the reader a chance to react. If you do cliffhangers, make sure what they come back to is worth it. Which kind of cliffhanger -- open the door, and (BREAK), then see the centurion waiting or open the door, see the centurion waiting, and (BREAK)? Look at white space -- length of lines, paragraphs, etc. Dialogue and short action beats versus expository blocks of text. Exposition may be faster, but dialogue or quick beats reads fast, even if it takes more pages. Commas are one beat, periods two, and paragraph breaks are three beats. But. Be. Careful. Think about pacing in proportion to the length of the story you are writing. Short books, faster pace. Also check your genre! Don't forget the scene-sequel format! Also, look at whether a scene is self-contained, or leaves unanswered questions. Try putting a scene break just before they escape, just after they escape, or after they escape and find the Roman centurion waiting with the next question... the pace changes!
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[Brandon] We are actually out of time. So we're going to let Mary give us some homework regarding scene breaks.
[Mary] Right. What I'd like you to do is take something that you've written already. We're just going to play with converting it from a through scene... Or converting it either from a through scene to a scene break or the other way around, depending on what it is. But just grab an entire chapter that has scenes in it, and take all the... Any place you have a scene break, take it out and replace it with exposition to bridge. Instead...
[Howard] A transitional sentence of some sort.
[Mary] A transitional sentence. See what that does to your pacing. Likewise, look what happens if you... When you put those scene breaks back in, look what happens if you move where that scene break is, just by a line or two.
[Brandon] Excellent. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.
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