Have you ever been disappointed at a concert because your favorite band sounded different than the radio?
My wife and I had an awkward moment upon discovering that yahoo broadcasts live concerts on their website. She noticed Aerosmith was live and clicked in curiosity.
To be honest, I was surprised they were still playing. We determined later that they were performing something which sounded like Sweet Emotion.
Not quite the way I’d heard in my childhood.
It’s key in music. It’s important in life. And it’s crucial to our writing.
I recently heard a well-respected author lament the lack of good pacing in modern writing, particularly among popular YA novels. They listed samples of pages of dialogue with no narrative, info dumps, and other no-no’s that either brought the story to a screeching halt or raced it ahead at the speed of light.
I’ve always thought of a story like a symphony, which is why I like the above image so much. There should be a rhythm to writing. An ebb and flow that resonates emotionally in addition to plot and word choice.
In fact, I think poor pacing is probably the number one reason I will put down a book immediately. If I don’t like the characters or the plot doesn’t grip me right away, I’ll keep reading and give the author a shot.
But if I feel like I’m in line at the voting precinct….yeah, you’re not getting read.
I recently finished The Shadow Lamp by Stephen Lawhead. I’ve been openly critical that I don’t think this series is his best work. It’s written from an omniscient point-of-view with lots of author intrusion. It’s got tons of info dumps. The plot rambles at times.
Yet one thing Lawhead hasn’t lost is his ability to conduct the story in a way that moves me along. I still feel. I can still picture each scene in my mind vividly.
Because of pacing it’s still a good book. Story will always be king. But I don’t want to wreck a good idea with bad pacing.