6.16.2010

What Time is It?

Time is a strange, elusive creature as many of you know. When you're really sleepy, have tons of work to do or have looming deadlines, there's never enough of it. It also slips by on swift feet when you're having fun. Then there are days when you feel every tick of the clock, and the week, day, hour can't end fast enough.

I've been feeling a bit of both lately, and it got me thinking about books and pacing. There are some books you just tear through, blasting through pages as if you were in a race. You're caught up in the action, the danger, the mystery! Your breathless anticipation matches the characters' own, and neither of you can believe all those events happened in a mere week or two! Or you've been with the characters through adventures that lasted months, maybe years, but it doesn't feel like it because so much has happened and all those things needed all that time.

Other books you read at a slower pace, savoring each word in your mouth and letting it seep into your mind. The story unfolds in beautiful segments like watching a painting in progress. When you put the book down, it lingers in your thoughts and soon, you're drawn back to it. But this book, you can read chapter by chapter; there's no rush.

You may have the same amount of love for both books, but you love them in different ways. Reading both these kinds of books is time well spent.

Of course, there's the flip side of this cozy balance I've visualized. There are those books that could have done with some trimming or some fleshing out. There are those stories you read where characters journey for months on end, and it feels like months when you read it. Not gonna lie, when I read it took the Fellowship a few months to get to Rivendell in Fellowship of the Ring, well, I wasn't surprised because sometimes those many pages of walking and singing felt like months. Conversely, there are also books where things just abruptly end, or there's all this build-up and the climax snips by and you're left wondering if it ever even happened.

So my question is, when you're writing, what's your perception of time like - for you as a writer and for your characters?

For me, writing is alternately slow and fast. I feel like it's very slow going when I'm writing because I think about things a lot (probably too much), and I weigh each word and sentence. But when I look up at the clock, a bunch of time has passed. Sometimes, writing these blog posts seems breezy to me, but I'm always surprised by how late it is when I'm done.

Also, I often wonder about how writers pace their stories. The whole pacing thing is pretty organic for me; I don't really think about it and I don't know if I could. I sort of just go with what feels right.

How do you pace your stories? Is it a conscious decision or does it just happen?

4 comments:

arlee bird said...

When I am writing and really into what I'm writing it often seems like time does fly by. The time slows down when I'm trying to figure out what to write.

The pacing of my stories depends on the importance of what is happening. I try to get very detailed and observational if I want time to slow down so the reader will reflect on what is being said. Then sometimes if nothing is inherently important to the plot I'll fly through time, perhaps even swiftly bypassing years.

Lee
Tossing It Out

arlee bird said...

Please read this message from Arlee Bird:

There is a blogger out there who needs your support more than most others do. He is an inmate in a prison who is attempting to have a voice. He has been writing for several years and would like someone to read what he has to say. He does not have internet access and his submissions must be posted by his sister, who in turn sends him comments for him to respond to. I hope you will at least take a look at his blog and then if you moved to do so, leave a comment for him and follow his blog and tell others about it.

The Saga of the Concrete Jungle

Thanks
Lee

Lydia Kang said...

I alternate between writing too much and having time seem like it's going to slow, and not fleshing out certain scenes and then they fly by too fast.
Wow, that was a big run-on sentence.
I get that same feeling from reading LOTR. It's long and it's epic, and I'm okay with that--but I don't know if I'd have to patience for another author or story!

Krispy said...

Arlee- Thanks for your comments. Details and observation do tend to slow the pace in stories, don't they?

Lydia- Yeah, I mean, the writing was beautiful and the world so detailed and developed for LOTR, but sometimes, it required REAL EFFORT to get through.