Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Driving around Corners



I never knew how fast 30 km/hour can seem so fast when I'm sitting in the passenger side and my 15 year old son is driving. Yes, that's right, I can now add driving instructor to my resume.

Actually it hasn't been too bad. He's a pretty good driver, except for turning corners. He takes them a little too fast and over rotates the wheel. I told him that you slow down to take the corner and then you speed up when you're a little more than way through it.

Lately I've been worried about the middle of my book. Is the pacing too slow? Do I really need that scene? How can I make it more exciting?

So I took a little break and read three books to see how they handled the middle. And I have to say, just like coming around a corner, the books slowed down before they turned direction and then excelerated.

I think it's okay to slow your pacing in the middle (not too much though), set up the story line, develop the characters just before you thrust the reader into the climax.

What are your thoughts on the middle? Is it every okay to slow your pacing down?

17 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

We all need breathers. As long as a scene still moves the story forward or contains micro tension, I think it's okay. Or if it's a sequel, so the character can collect his/her thoughts, the chapter can be shorter. Crit partners will let you know!

Holly Ruggiero said...

As a reader, I like when I don't notice it, the pace, tension, everything works together.

So, if it slows down there need to be some reason for that to happen.

Misha said...

Hmm... I need to think about it a little. Maybe it's necessary to slow down a little so that the climax will feel bigger and more important by comparison.

If there isn't a slow-down, the climax might not stand out enough...

Stephanie Faris said...

They always call it "the murky middle" and I agree! I am not an outliner or pre-planner. I just sit down and write. But when I get to the middle and start thinking about setting the ms. aside and starting on something fresh, I usually will sit down and outline at that point. That seems to get me over that hump.

Kate said...

great comparison. writing is like driving :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Oh wow, Patti, that was a GREAT analogy--well done! I think slowing down the pacing sometimes can be the perfect way to ready us for a punch! :-)

Connie said...

Good for you being the driving instructor!! With our kids, I went with the first one, and then swore off all instruction until they'd had 25 hours with their dad. I'd have been in an early grave otherwise. And if not, the kids would've shot me. :)

notesfromnadir said...

This reminds me of the time I took a driving lesson & took a 30 mph corner at 45 mph & slid off the road! :)

The middle can be a little leisurely as we've met most of the characters & the story's unfolded.

Angela Felsted said...

I think Blake Snyder calls this the fun and games section. It's where I am right now as well.

I keep reminding myself not to rush my way through it.

LTM said...

I confess, the middle is where I struggle most. I always have a strong sense of the beginning and the end, but the middles are tough. Maybe that's a common experience.

wow. I'm not looking forward to driving lessons! :D brave soul~

Monica B.W. said...

Hmm depends, I think? I mean, if you're slowing down to flesh out something important, then YES! :D

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I always have a hard time with the middle. I just can't help stressing about losing the reader. You know? I've learned to not worry about it as much though. The end there is always something huge that happens, and sometimes you need to slow it down before you speed it up. :)

Robyn Campbell said...

Wow. Patti, what a great way to show how to write the middle of your book. Hmm, ever think of teaching a course on it? You're gooood.

The middle has always worried me. At first I thought the whole book had to be filled with EXCITEMENT. I guess I'm more seasoned no and realize it can't be that way. You can slow it down and keep the reader reading. Just don't tell and don't bore. ;-)

Melissa Marsh said...

Oh, the middle. It's so hard. I think Laura got it right when she said we need a breather. But the catch is we can't let it last too long - we don't want the reader to put the book down.

Shannon said...

Good analogy. =)

I think it's okay to slow down a little as long as every scene moves the story forward. It's the dead water scenes that can really kill a story.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Depends what the agent says when they read it. ;)

I agree with Shannon. A little slowing down for a short time before the big scene is fine. It's when it stretches for a long period and doens't advance the story, then I lose interest.

Jill Kemerer said...

Driver's ed!! Scary! You're a brave woman!

I was thinking of this very thing last night after watching The Walking Dead. The writers know just when to move the scene to a "save zone" where we watchers can breathe a little and not be as tense. Slowing down is necessary!