How to handle story pacing?

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Thread: How to handle story pacing?

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    Default How to handle story pacing?

    I've been watching Transformers G1. I'm not a fan but they're a good watch. I particularly notice how the story in each episode moves so damn fast to the point of it being rushed. The Legend of Korra shows this trait but I feels that it's better handled and comes of as "not wasting time" rather than "rushing." Compare that to Dragon Ball Z that takes it sweet-ass time with panning shots, scene that linger more than they should and pointless filler (they may've had reasons but it's still bothersome).

    It made me wonder how to properly pace a story so it doesn't seem like you're rushing and so it doesn't seem like you're meandering too much. Like if you finish a story's outline, how would you trim the fat (so to speak)?

    So, your thoughts?

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    Default Re: How to handle story pacing?

    What I do is write details of my episodes as I'm writing the initial outline. Then I look at the episodes (or sometimes even when I'm writing), and combine short episodes, split off potential new episodes if a new concept/idea/storyline/character is taking up too much of the original storyline, cut long episodes into two (and occasionally more), and if need be, delete some episodes altogether (Initially, I was going to have an episode of "Pokemon: The Song of Jewels" that gave Brock a tour of Brightstar Dreams, the breeding facility that Wendy and her familiy run, but I cut it when I realized A. it would just be filler and B. Brock would probably be too tired for a full tour of the place)
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    J'ai Envie De Toi AetherX's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: How to handle story pacing?

    I think it depends heavily on the type of story you're trying to tell.

    Personally, I like to break up action wherever possible by writing periods of calm between action scenes. Even if they're short, it gives the characters time to grow, reflect on whatever the action was about, and interact with each other. It's most important in the end, I feel, to be sure that your characters' goal(s) are always in focus, whatever they are doing.
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    Default Re: How to handle story pacing?

    I think with pacing the thing to keep in mind is 'progress'. If you ever write a chapter and almost no progress is made, then that's a major problem. Have a goal for each chapter, whether that's introducing a certain character, giving hints to relationships or foreshadowing, setting up a situation to happen later, or have the characters encounter a problem. I think if you do that, and have each chapter manage t do something important for the plot, then your pacing should be pretty good. I know I do like the 'filler' type stuff though, I pretty much try to make sure that I am never bored writing or reading my story, and hopefully that carries over to how the audience feels when they read it.
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    Default Re: How to handle story pacing?

    I think fillers are a good way to reduce pacing and add mass to your continent. I mean it makes little sense when a Trainer is in Fuchsia City on day 1 and on the Cinnabar Islands on day 2. Also using chapters strategically can help a lot as well.

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    Default Re: How to handle story pacing?

    Quote Originally Posted by bigtukker View Post
    Also using chapters strategically can help a lot as well.
    I have trouble with this since I don't want to place a limit when there might be more I want to write.

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    Default Re: How to handle story pacing?

    I grew up with Transformers G1, and they had some terrific three part epics, but they did move fast. The characters were well situated, we knew the roles, all that mattered was the story. But you didn't much care for that? As for Legend of Korra, I think for a show that has an audience, and doesn't rely on being a half hour toy commercial, it moves far too quickly. I loved Korra, but the pace of the show ruined the suspense and my interest. It just went too quickly. And maybe you saw it differently because you like one franchise and not the other. Often times we don't notice faults in what we love.

    If you truly compare them, both TFG1 and LoK move at break neck speeds, leaving no time to dwell or contemplate on events or revelations. They both play like long-form toy commercials, except only one of those is.

    I guess my bigger point is; pace is in the eyes of the beholder. I generally believe something should happen in every chapter, and pay off, with approriate time, is necessary to keep readers and audience interest.
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    Default Re: How to handle story pacing?

    But Korra has an excuse: when it was written, it was only going to be twelve episodes long, so they had to move quickly to cover everything. Do I wish it had been different? Yeah. Does the show suffer for it? Oh yeah.

    I also don't think that the greatest problem in The Transformers is the pacing. There's so much else wrong with the show, it generally isn't a good example of anything (although I am quite partial to some of the smaller, more character-focused episodes like the ones starring Tracks and Raoul; and this is coming from a HUGE Transformers fan).

    My general rule for pacing is, if something plot-important doesn't happen in a chapter, you're doing it wrong. In serialized stories, like the one I'm currently writing, plot-important details might just be character revelations, rather than some sort of villainous reveal. That was a major problem with the aforementioned Dragon Ball Z anime- fights would drag on and on with no new developments happening every other episode (though the Freeza fight is probably the biggest offender here; five minutes, anyone?), and it's one of the reasons I vastly prefer Dragon Ball Z Kai.

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    Default Re: How to handle story pacing?

    I don't think Avatar/TLOK suffers from it's fast pace since I actually admire them for not beating around the bush (too much). They'd leave out the unimportant crap and see that every second counts. Though I can see how others wouldn't find it appeal, that's just their opinion.

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    Default Re: How to handle story pacing?

    You might find this link helpful; it will take you to a formula for writing a book within three days. The secret is to have a good outline handy. The link takes you to a more indepth explanation which will help you pace your story:
    How to Write a Book in Three Days: Lessons from Michael Moorcock | Wet Asphalt

    If you want to integrate everything--backstory etc.--in a way that feels organic and not at all forced, you might mimic Stephen King's approach to the Dark Tower Cycle. Pit your characters against situations mirroring a big event from their backstory. Afterward, they bring it up. Or your character experiences brief flashbacks of that past situation as they deal with the current situation.

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    Default Re: How to handle story pacing?

    Yeah, and Transformers excuse was that it was a thirty minute toy commercial, excuses don't help anybody. Anyhow, the sports arc felt completely tacked on and pointless by the time the season was winding down, and they should have realized that at the conceptual stage. Thirteen episodes was more than enough time for the Amon plot, it was the tacked on sports plot that crippled LoK, and that had nothing to do with time restraint, it was poor planning at the conceptual stage. So I don't see its limitations as an excuse, I blame the writers.

    Anyhow, after three seasons with a successful show, I expect more from a veteran team Shame on them. Transformers was in the 80's, and was like the height of commercialization, I don't expect anything from that series except nostalgia. It was an awkward show. But it knew what it was. LoK didn't know what it wanted to be.

    But that's what it comes down to; opinion. Eyes of the beholder and all that junk. In summation; LoK was bogged down, crippled, by its poor planning during pre-production, the fault of the writers involved to not properly accept their limitations and play the story to its strength. That's the greater lesson here in pacing. Play to your story.
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    Default Re: How to handle story pacing?

    @Quirky Circuit I'd much prefer it if you saved those thoughts for a more appropriate topic, if it's all the same with you. Sorry, I'd rather not risk getting this thread derailed.

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    Default Re: How to handle story pacing?

    Now if we can just steer clear of the whole "TLoK" discussion and go back to discussing how to draw the line between "whoa nelly, slow down, buckaroo" and "STOP DILLYDALLYING AND GET TO THE POINT!"

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