On Writing: Pacing a Novel

I've been honing my skill in this area, and I think it's about time I gave some light to my experiences.

First I'm going to talk about the general pacing of a novel.

In this, my second incarnation of Aundes Aura, I have unwittingly developed a structure that ensures good modulation in the pacing. Put simply, when the characters are in a town, the main plot usually develops a bit further, and when the characters are between towns, their personalities and individual feelings and backstories grow. As a result, we get to understand the story from many different points of view, without ever leaving the main character.

So generally, over the course of the novel, the pacing modulates from chapter to chapter, or from one half of a chapter to the next. Say Chapter One is particularly fast-paced. You don't want it to be too fast, because you also want to introduce the characters a little, but the idea here is to kick of the plot at the inciting incident, which is the point which puts the whole plot in motion.

This inciting incident is as simple as "this is why the plot occurs". Remember that, and you'll be one step closer to a gripping beginning. The hardest part in the first page is balancing character development and quickly setting up the inciting incident.

In my first page, I jump into the inciting incident in the first few paragraphs, and this is okay because while it is all happening, we discover a little about the characters. It's perhaps better, though, to spend at least two or three pargraphs introducing the characters so the reader has some sense of them and will care more about their plight.

Just remember that an agent or publisher can base their choice on the first page, so you'll want to get stuck in as soon as you reasonably can.

One thing I originally did was start too early in the story. As in, negative plot, seven years before the real beginning of the story. I put this as a prologue, and it's actually still there just for my purposes, and most likely won't be there when I send it out to some agents.

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Every Thousand Words: An Epic Revival

Okay, my "arrangements" are pretty non-sensical at the moment, but the idea is that by the time I reach eighty-thousand words, I'll have enough words to arrange a full-sized, relatively sensical paragraph.

~ Twelve Thousand ~

The Word: in

The Paragraph: The three sprinted through the streets. Eoin kept alert the whole time, the possibility of danger around every corner. He had thought it was all over, that it had ended with their completion of the prayer at the Grand Church. He was trapped "in" a never-ending nightmare. Last time the reverend had interrupted Saera’s prayer. This time the gods had no excuse to impose such danger on them. Had he and Saera not shown their devotion? Elcalades the Giving, father of gods. Eoin had always thought the title to imply the god’s generosity. He didn’t know he played favourites.

~ Thirteen Thousand ~

The Word: last

The Paragraph: Opening the stable gate, Faine said, “The others chasing us will think the guards have caught us. We should have enough time to escape the city and put ourselves a fair distance from it.” He climbed onto his horse, and Eoin and Saera climbed onto theirs. Like "last" time, Eoin sat in front and took the reins, while Saera hugged his stomach firmly.

~ Fourteen Thousand ~

The Word: sun

The Paragraph: The sun dropped below the horizon as they cooked what stale bread they had left over the fire.

~ Fifteen Thousand ~

The Word: happened

The Paragraph: “What "happened"?” said Eoin.

~ Sixteen Thousand ~

The Word: from

The Paragraph: “Seven years,” said Saera. “It’s shown up "from" time to time, but never like this. It’s never been so intense. I just don’t understand why.”

~ Seventeen Thousand ~

The Word: past

The Paragraph: The trees now behind them, Eoin, Saera and Faine rode "past" a sign welcoming them to the village.

~ Eighteen Thousand ~

The Word: there

The Paragraph: Faine leaned closer. “Further up the mountain there’s a cave. If you go to the very end of it, you’ll find a hole big enough to crawl through. From "there", a massive tunnel leads straight through the mountain. That is our path.”

~ Nineteen Thousand ~

The Word: his

The Paragraph: Eoin shrugged and pulled his gloves off, shoving them in "his" pocket. He stepped into Faine’s hand, and as he was lifted he put his hands on the wall to keep his balance. The stone was as cold as ice. He put his arm up and felt for a good grip somewhere on the top, and then pulled himself up so his stomach was bent over the wall. He swung his legs over and landed next to Saera in a crouch. Looking up at her, he said, “Did you miss me?”

~ Twenty Thousand ~

The Word: father's

The Paragraph: “What was your "father’s" name?” said Faine.

~ Twenty-One Thousand ~

The Word: they

The Paragraph: This was the reason "they" were here now. The light had been with Saera for seven years. It wasn’t until this week that it decided come out and greet them. Why couldn’t it have stayed hidden? No one ever had to know about it, but now the whole country did. And they wanted to hurt Saera because of it. And because Eoin was helping her, they’d want to hurt him, too. And Faine. He was only trying to help an innocent girl travelling with the carriages, and he’d been swept into something far, far greater. It was a brutal place they lived in. Had lived in.

~ Twenty-Two Thousand ~

The Word: in

The Paragraph: Eoin didn’t have to question how Faine knew this. In fact it was quite simple. At the time they’d entered the tunnel, the sun was beginning to lower. Logically, they would have been in here long enough that it would be dark outside. But Eoin felt strange. It was the constant darkness. This was truly the darkest place he had ever been. No sunlight accompanied them through cracks or holes "in" the roof. The only light came from Saera’s Aura. A strange mystical light so pure that it was unnatural.

Epic Arrangement: They was around his father's food wall, like sun. Eoin happened past there last. We... we didn't ever be from in there.

Aundes Aura: Chapter Four in Queue

This is just a quick post to let all my wonderful followers know that Chapter Four is up this very period on CC if you want to see what is happening in the world of Aundes Aura at the moment, or even if you'd like to drop me a critique!

I apologise again for a slow-down in posts. The later days of school really limit your opportunities in other areas, but I'm trying my best to keep the blog active.

Short Story: The Tower in My Dream

That was the tower in my dream.

I pull myself up the ladder just like last time. People fall past me on both sides. It’s a shame. But I know they’ll wake up once they hit the ground. I remember the moment of utter fear I’d felt as I’d tumbled through the air.

And I know I’m dreaming, but I can’t stop climbing. And what will happen when I reach the top? Will I fall and colour the ground?


But those few seconds of fear will be worth it just to wake up. Because I am tired of climbing. I’m tired of the itch in my hands caused by the dirt left behind from others’ shoes, and knowing I can’t stop to scratch.

Because if I do I will fall.

But why must this tower be so tall? There couldn’t be such a thing as an eternal ladder.

As the people fall by I sense their regrets.

The last thing he said to his wife.

The crush who never knew her.

And here I am without regret, for whatever I have done wrong I have paid back with a thousand rights. Another rung, another step. Another challenge to face. And each one I had faced head on, and thus here am I, climbing a ladder to the heavens.

Even hurled stones cannot stop me, for what stone can break the mould of destiny? The top of this ladder is where my future lies. There lies the future of all. Come stones, I challenge you. Empower me to strive further, for without hindrance there is no challenge, and without challenge there is no reward.

Reward without challenge is the devil’s friend, and those who practise the cheat’s way shall fall from the tower to meet their other destiny.

The people falling by try to latch onto me and bring me down with them. They can’t touch me. I’ve done nothing wrong.

The ladder is not eternal. I can see the top. My destiny awaits. I reach up and pull myself another step closer. As soon as I had started climbing, it seems, I pull myself over the ladder and stand on the top of a thin spire, room enough for only one foot. I dare to look down, one foot hanging over the edge. I don’t fall. I am perfectly balanced, and I am unafraid.

Here a light comes, from everywhere around. My destiny has been found. I am blinded by white. And there is nothing.

I sit up. I see a tower with a great ladder.

That was the tower in my dream.

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Progress Update

Tonight I passed 20,000 words! I am so, so close to passing the word count at which I stopped writing my previous concept of the novel. It seems like I've got a decent amount of plot and depth left in this to make it the whole way. I just have to keep going.

I may take a break sometimes, but I can't let this one pass me by like every other long story I have ever attempted. I strongly believe that this one is just that good. And, I absolutely adore it and I want to see it completed, and then improved, and then published.

And I am not naive at all as far as the publishing world at all. I already have a plan. But I can't go to step three without having first reached step two.

So my aim is to finish step one. And whether that happens by the end of next year, or the one after, I WILL do it.

Upcoming post: A Milestone Celebration: Every Thousand Words

August Goals

I wonder how many of you noticed I posted a 2,500 word challenge the other day, which is now gone, deleted. That's because my failure was too much for me to bear. I have some interesting goals for August that would help me immensely with my life in general.

1. Reach 5,000 words for this month.

2. Write every day.

3. Make some effort to put my homework/writing/leisure schedule to actual use.

If I were to follow this diligently, it would sort out everything, from my late nights to my uncompleted homework, to my failure to reach the goals I set for myself.

It's quite sad, I think, all the disappointment I face when I find I'm not reaching my goals, or I have to tell two or three teachers a day that, no, I haven't done the homework.

On top of that it's a subconscious knock to the confidence I have in myself, and to my sense of freedom. At least if I did the homework my complaints about having so much would actually be warranted.

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Welcome to The Dark Corner of the Mind. My name is Ryan Sullivan and my aim with this blog is to help others with their own writing, as well as to make note of some of my own writing endeavours.

Here at The Dark Corner, Real Life is both our best friend and our worst enemy. Look to him for inspiration, but don't let him get in the way too much.

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