Story Pacing – Catching it Early is Vital

I… hit a snare with my NaNoWriMo novel yesterday.

I didn’t really appreciate that I hit it on the 2nd busiest day of my week, but I am glad I hit it near the end of the first week instead of in the middle of the second one. 

How do you tell when your story just isn’t flowing?

Well, are you bored while you’re writing it? Are you frustrated that things seem to take too long to happen, or that there’s too much time between events? Even if you don’t write the time that has elapsed, but rather just skip from event to event, you can still tell that it’s taking too long.

I probably set myself up for some of this – currently, I’m working off some pre-written material, expanding some scenes, completely scrapping others, and adding new ones in.

But pretty much from day 3 of NaNo on, I’ve been hitting a wall. Actually, I’ve felt a bit like this picture:

Picture by Timo Waltari
Picture by Timo Waltari

I’ve been able to see where I want the story to go. I can see the potential. But there was something between me and it, and I couldn’t figure out what was blocking it.

Until I sat down and tried to write in the limited time I had yesterday and realized that I couldn’t have the interaction I needed between characters and events because they were taking place too far apart – both in physical distance (which will soon be resolved), and by time.

Yes, you read that right. Time.

You see, I’m writing epic fantasy. Epic both in scope of the plot, regardless of how much time it does or does not take, and because it will literally take years for everything to come to culmination. (Just, you know, hopefully not as many years as ahem Wheel of Time took. Because I’d like to finish this before I die.)

But I realized for characters to interact with their fullest potential and be able to hook readers early… I need to shave at least a decade off the predicted timeline.

(This is why I outline, people! So I can figure out problems like this before I’ve written the entire story.)

So how was yesterday spent, instead of writing?

Figuring out which events are actually going to happen in this book and with these characters if I readjust everything by 10 years.

What’s the craziest pacing snag you’ve encountered in your writing?

And also, have a Hobbit sneak-peak! Because Hobbit!


Recent Comments

  • valerierlawson
    November 12, 2013 - 8:42 pm · Reply

    mine was just a matter of hours, but it was important. i had a character fall asleep and wake up locked up in a building at night then discover a robbery. it wasn’t until it was critiqued that I realized the timing was off by several hours. I mean, that kid had to be taking a really long nap to wake up in the middle of the night. So obvious once pointed out. It took me awhile to figure out a fix, though.

What do you think?

About Rebekah

Rebekah Loper writes character-driven epic fantasy featuring resilient women in trying and impossible circumstances who just want to save themselves but usually end up saving the world, often while falling in love.
She lives in Tulsa, OK with her husband, dog, two formerly feral cats, a small flock of feathered dragons (...chickens. They're chickens), and an extensive tea collection. When she's not writing, she battles the Oklahoma elements in an effort to create a productive, permaculture urban homestead.