Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Plot Points and Pacing

One advantage of reading eBooks is that you can see the percentage of the book at the bottom of the screen. Some books on writing offer suggestions as to what plot points should occur at what points in the story. It's cool to read a certain event, look at the book percentage, and realize, "Oh, yeah, this is about the time that should happen!" It gives me hope that even a pantser like me can internalize plot structure.

Of course, the scenes in between the plot points are where your characters develop and "earn" the next plot point. While developing the highlights of a story is important, it's also critical to make sure the rest of the story supports it. For example, once a character makes a decision to do something, I want her to do it. When it takes her half-a-dozen chapters after making a decision to do something, it can be a frustrating read, even if the intervening chapters wrap up subplots and increase the stakes. (That said, in a book I read recently, one character asked the protagonist to do something, but later sent her a message saying it was okay to wait. The message definitely worked against any sense of urgency the author was trying to create.)

Pacing at the beginning of a story can make or break the sale. For most eBooks, I download a sample first before buying it. If the story is supposed to have a speculative element, but the sample just sets up the normal, everyday world without a hint of fantasy or SF, I'm far less likely to read the entire book.

Do you have plot pointers or pacing peeves? Feel free to share them in the comments.


DRC said...

Needing your character to do something and have them receive a message saying it's okay to wait??? I can see that being frustrating. One peeve of mine, as you've alreaady mentoined, is putting in too much world building or character introduction/development at the beginning. I like to jump right in the action that leaves questions and makes you want to read on to find the answers.

Sandra Almazan said...

The book that inspired this post did have a slow start, DRC.

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