Monday, July 27, 2020

# Guest Posts

Pace is Critical to a Good Story by Darryl A. Woods @darrylawoods #guest

Pace is Critical to a Good Story

By Darryl A. Woods

As I began writing my novel, I knew I did not want to drone on via narrative or dialogue. I know this can be boring and repetitive after a certain point and tried to be conscientious about balancing those throughout the story. However, other elements are often overlooked that also help to establish the pace of the story. One of these elements is detail versus panoramic views.
An easy way to visualize descriptions and how you write them is to imagine a scene in a movie. The camera starts out with a flyover of an open field with a large tree on a grassy knoll. The panoramic view lets you take in a wide sweep of imagery, allowing you to put the scene into perspective with its surroundings. The camera then focuses on the large tree as other details fade to obscurity. The shot continues to tighten, showing a couple on a blanket. As the shot tightens, you can see that the man seems quite happy but is oblivious to the look of sadness on the woman’s face. The scene ends with a close-up of her face, which verifies your suspicion that she was not sharing in the man’s happiness.
This process does two things. It shows the overall setting of the scene, allowing you, the viewer (reader), to take in the beauty of the picturesque setting. It then draws you into observing the subtlety of the characters’ emotions. It also sets an emotional pace, going from a simple, carefree flyover to creating concern for the woman in the scene.
A good novel needs a balance of emotions. For example, a good battle scene should build as the overall setting is defined. Moments of intense action need to be followed by a slowing of the action to give the reader a break. Without this, the reader can become overwhelmed and numb to the action scenes. If it continues in this vein, the reader may even become bored with the action. It is the ebb and flow of strong emotions or action that set the pace, allowing the reader to recover from one emotional high before being plunged into the next.
More subtle changes in writing also can affect the pace of your story. In my novel The Summoned Ones, I have a short chapter called “The Race.” This chapter was about a group racing on horseback to a pass before their enemy could close off the escape route. In the chapter, I flipped frequently back and forth from narrative to dialogue. I kept the dialogue brief and punchy, and the narrative paragraphs short.
I presented the just-completed chapter to an early beta reader. The next day, he pulled me aside and said, “You can’t do that to your readers.”
I asked innocently what he was talking about. He replied, “I was worn out by that chapter. You have to give the reader a break.”
I didn’t reply to his comments or explain my method. I merely handed him the next chapter, in which I had purposely slowed the pace.
Afterwards, he told me not to worry about his prior concern, because this chapter had slowed the pace. I then revealed to him the effort I had put into “The Race” to make it so fast-paced, and how I had attempted to convey the emotions of the hard-charging horse ride.
These concepts illustrate how pace can be used to achieve balance. The sometimes subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle equilibrium of opposing forces can allow a reader to experience the emotions within a story without being overwhelmed.

About the Author

Darryl Woods is a storyteller who hones his craft entertaining coworkers. He also enjoys regaling family and friends with stories of his upbringing in rural Ohio, of the motorized contraptions his father fabricated, and of the timber cutting and sawmill work he did with his father-in-law. With an appetite for reading fantasy, it was inevitable he would choose to write about an epic journey in a world dominated by magic and sword fighting.


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About the Book:
Title: The Summoned Ones, Book 1 of Flight to Bericea
Author: Darryl A. Woods
Publisher: Brelsford Ridge Publishing
Pages: 336
Genre: Adult Epic Fantasy

Can a group of college-aged friends from a small Kentucky town actually be the Summoned Ones of prophecy, called to a strange world filled with magic and devastated by war? Can they save the lives of the desperate inhabitants and help them defeat a wicked tyrant? Their epic journey will push them to the limits of their endurance. This unlikely group will discover truths about themselves and experience another world beyond their imagination.

During their journey, they will explore this new world, discover new talents and previously hidden abilities, develop friendships with people they couldn’t have dreamed possible, and will be forced to take actions they would have never considered in any less dire circumstances.


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