Is this bad pacing?
Posted 4/18/14

Without going into details, my story goes through 20 years from the first chapter to the third chapter. The first chapter has an event that starts and reaches a climax. The chapter ends in that one day. The next chapter has three-quarters of the chapter span through years of key information for the audience. It is heavily narrated so you don't lose track, filled with exposition yet short and to the point. Then at the final quarter, the main character is introduced with a cliffhanger.

These two chapters are even stated as chapter 0.25 and chapter 0.5 respectively. With the real chapter 3 (labelled as chapter 1) being a point where the story starts. But the chapter 0.25 and 0.5 help you understand the main character's background and the world he lives in (world building).

The real chapter 3-6 happen in three years. Again this is squashed because all that happens in 3-6 is introduction to characters, little character development and training. Then by the finale at 25 chapters, a year has passed from chapter 6. In other words, the story covered starts to feel more weekly rather than multi-annual. In terms of plot content in those 25 chapters I am pleased with what I've got through but could this unusual structure be considered bad writing and if so, how can I fix it?
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Posted 4/18/14 , edited 4/18/14
I don't think it's bad, but you could go ahead and label .25 + .5 as the prologue and start the "real story" with chapter 1.

cmanes 
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Posted 4/23/14
This depends solely on how you illustrate everything, but I'm with Lowlights. I can understand that you don't want to post anything for good reason, but given the information provided, prologue the fraction chapters.

As for chapters 3-6, no good examples come to mind of it being done well, badly, or at all, but I'm sure you have discovered a way to make it a smooth, or even cleverly abrupt, transition to the rest of the story. This seems obvious and, therefore, unnecessary to mention, but be sure to provide indicators to the reader of a given time period. One example is that many writers insert dates as headers above the first paragraph of chapters and sections.

This advice brought to you by a freelance developmental and substantive editor.

P.S. Good luck.
Posted 5/5/14

cmanes wrote:

This depends solely on how you illustrate everything, but I'm with Lowlights. I can understand that you don't want to post anything for good reason, but given the information provided, prologue the fraction chapters.

As for chapters 3-6, no good examples come to mind of it being done well, badly, or at all, but I'm sure you have discovered a way to make it a smooth, or even cleverly abrupt, transition to the rest of the story. This seems obvious and, therefore, unnecessary to mention, but be sure to provide indicators to the reader of a given time period. One example is that many writers insert dates as headers above the first paragraph of chapters and sections.

This advice brought to you by a freelance developmental and substantive editor.

P.S. Good luck.


Thanks for the advice I have chosen to include time stamps at the beginning of each chapter. On a personal note, does pacing bother you?
cmanes 
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Posted 5/5/14
Pacing will bother anyone. I can bet there isn't one person who reads books who has not yet found a book that has bad pacing somewhere.

Pacing does occasionally bother me, as it will bother everyone else. There were a few parts in two of Elizabeth Haydon's Rhapsody books that grated on me. Not to spoil anything, the main characters were stuck somewhere for a very long time. A looong time. The first half of Jane Eyre is horribly slow. The second half gets interesting, and the book is a timeless classic, but I had to power through it. People have said the same of Pride and Prejudice, but most of them had to read it for some class or other, so they'd complain about any book. Great Expectations, The Great Gatsby, etc.

Descriptiveness plays a large part in determining how fast or slow the pace is. If you spend paragraphs to pages describing one instant of time, a street in a town, or what a character is wearing, it may be too much. This also depends on how crucial the descriptions are to the characters' development, scene, and story.

Example:
One of my friends has a distaste of J.R.R. Tolkein's The Two Towers, where he spends, in my friend's opinion, much too long describing Rohan and its horses. Plainly, he said it slowed the pacing down for him to such a degree he hasn't picked up the book to finish it in nearly a year.

Now, everything I've said is a combination of what I was taught and what I have observed. I'm not trying to give any rules other than to describe what you think is necessary, and even that isn't a rule. I think the best thing about writing is that there isn't some form you have to adhere to. People can tell stories in any way they choose and those stories can be anything from terrible to tremendous. I apologize for the rambling. I tend to over-explain things, I guess.

If you're seeking some direction, pick up Stephen King's On Writing. It's helped I-don't-know-how-many people, including myself and my friend. Oh, man, it's a good read. And it's Stephen King. Come on.

What length are you going for with your story? Have you decided beforehand if it will be a short story or novel? Or are you writing it to completion and worrying about word count later?
Posted 5/5/14

cmanes wrote:

What length are you going for with your story? Have you decided beforehand if it will be a short story or novel? Or are you writing it to completion and worrying about word count later?


I am at the final draft stage of the story. Initially I planned to make a novel but over the past days I want to change it to a manga which kinda changes everything. The idea of pacing doubts still remains but I've come to a conclusion that as long as people are enjoying the content, it may not matter. The only minor problem is that if an elitist comes across my story, would he bash it for being quick then slowing down? Even so, I won't bother myself.

cmanes 
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Posted 5/6/14
"The only minor problem is that if an elitist comes across my story, would he bash it for being quick then slowing down? "

Yes, he would, and he would enjoy it. The type of elitists I'm thinking about are the ones who do nothing but lie on the Internet and destroy people's spirits. Others will provide constructive criticism. You'll always be subject to criticism. It's how you let it affect you that matters. Most of today's novelists, journalists, and writers in general sucked at some point, except for that one kid from Montana who wrote the Eragon books. He was lucky. Lucky and, I guess, super-talented. Keep in mind that if you suck at writing right now, you won't get any worse at it than you are.

I would imagine turning your story into a manga would present some unique obstacles, like properly capturing emotion in a character's face, but I'm sure you could overcome them. It may be easier in a sense because you don't have to describe locations since they will be drawn. There are timestamps all over the place in manga and American comics. Your potential problem may have been completely resolved by changing the style that way! Good job!
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Posted 5/9/14
The only real 'issue' here is that the 0.25 and 0.5 chapter labeling seems way out of place, unless you're doing some sort of a Sci-Fi story, in which case I'd go all out with that. If you're doing a fantasy, I'd suggest roman numerals or just naming them chapter 1 like usual.

This is much more dependent on the words themselves - you have to make sure that these chapters are interesting, otherwise the reader will become bored. If your only goal in here is to provide exposition, then you're actually better off starting with the interesting conflicts (If none exist in the prologue) while filling in the characters' backstory later. If you don't currently have a conflict but want to do this method anyway, find places where you can add some in - maybe his parents constantly fight, his childhood friends are captured, cut up into pieces and thrown out the castle window, or his swordsman teacher is secretly a corrupt official.

If you're going to add this backstory first, you have to make absolutely sure that it's interesting. Have at least some conflict in the scenes at all times, even if it's mainly for exposition.
Posted 5/10/14

Zodai wrote:

The only real 'issue' here is that the 0.25 and 0.5 chapter labeling seems way out of place, unless you're doing some sort of a Sci-Fi story, in which case I'd go all out with that. If you're doing a fantasy, I'd suggest roman numerals or just naming them chapter 1 like usual.

This is much more dependent on the words themselves - you have to make sure that these chapters are interesting, otherwise the reader will become bored. If your only goal in here is to provide exposition, then you're actually better off starting with the interesting conflicts (If none exist in the prologue) while filling in the characters' backstory later. If you don't currently have a conflict but want to do this method anyway, find places where you can add some in - maybe his parents constantly fight, his childhood friends are captured, cut up into pieces and thrown out the castle window, or his swordsman teacher is secretly a corrupt official.

If you're going to add this backstory first, you have to make absolutely sure that it's interesting. Have at least some conflict in the scenes at all times, even if it's mainly for exposition.


It's a story that involves Sci-Fi elements so yeah, it does work then

Your last sentence pretty much sums up what I'm going for. I also absolutely hate long flashbacks so I will try to keep them to a minimum.

Zodai 
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Posted 5/12/14

chuba3000 wrote:


Zodai wrote:

The only real 'issue' here is that the 0.25 and 0.5 chapter labeling seems way out of place, unless you're doing some sort of a Sci-Fi story, in which case I'd go all out with that. If you're doing a fantasy, I'd suggest roman numerals or just naming them chapter 1 like usual.

This is much more dependent on the words themselves - you have to make sure that these chapters are interesting, otherwise the reader will become bored. If your only goal in here is to provide exposition, then you're actually better off starting with the interesting conflicts (If none exist in the prologue) while filling in the characters' backstory later. If you don't currently have a conflict but want to do this method anyway, find places where you can add some in - maybe his parents constantly fight, his childhood friends are captured, cut up into pieces and thrown out the castle window, or his swordsman teacher is secretly a corrupt official.

If you're going to add this backstory first, you have to make absolutely sure that it's interesting. Have at least some conflict in the scenes at all times, even if it's mainly for exposition.


It's a story that involves Sci-Fi elements so yeah, it does work then

Your last sentence pretty much sums up what I'm going for. I also absolutely hate long flashbacks so I will try to keep them to a minimum.



Seems like it makes sense then.

If you're using it as a worldbuilding mechanic though, think about how else you can use the mechanic to enhance the Sci-Fi aspect of it.
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Posted 5/30/14

chuba3000 wrote:


But the chapter 0.25 and 0.5 help you understand the main character's background and the world he lives in (world building).

The real chapter 3-6 happen in three years. Again this is squashed because all that happens in 3-6 is introduction to characters, little character development and training.


After spending a while on a writer's forum for writers wanting to get published and of course, published writers themselves, I've gathered this is usually a mistake new writers make.

Background--that's the key word, and that means it should really stay in the background. When does a story start? Well, simply when the story starts (which should be a point where there's no going back for your MC). And so, start with the story. After the hook--which should really be no more than 200 words--weave in the characters' personalities and world building by showing it to the readers. Background stories are only interesting when the readers are given a reason to care for your characters or are interested, and thus, should more often than not come later, after your characters are in action. You don't need pages to introduce the characters, have their character development etc. All this should happen as the story is moving. If the story isn't moving--then yes, that's bad pacing. After all, the main thing you're doing is telling a story, and so, everything--whether you need to cut things/change things/add things--should rely on the whether it's beneficial to your story or not.

tl;dr is all of what you've written relevant to the story? If yes, then it isn't bad pacing.

Hope this helps.
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Posted 7/18/14
OP nuked.

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