Saturday, February 06, 2010

Golden Advice -- Good Pacing

Hi, folks, this is the second in a series of creative analogies that I hope you will find golden on your creative journey.

The week the Golden Mean or Golden Section or Golden Ratio is a line segment divided like this: the total length a + b is to the longer segment a as a is to the shorter segment b.

The idea is one segment is twice the length of the other segment.

In terms of storytelling the Golden Mean is like good pacing. :) It's esthetically pleasing. It adds interest and depth. It brings the magic of thirds to your work. It's a good guideline for creating meaningful art, but like any kind of advice, this is a guideline not something set in stone.

A book has three parts: a beginning middle and end. Again, how can the Golden Mean Guide us. Two-thirds of the book is the beginning and the middle --the build-up, one third is the end. The third act should be the whamdoozie. This is a natural rhythm that writers gravitate toward. Me too.

Scenes to me have three major parts. One part is the setting, one part is the dialogue, and the third part is the reflection from the narrator or character or both. If a scene is weighted with dialogue, say 80%, has no setting, and the minimun of reflection, it usually won't seem to flow.

Think about this when you want to have a chapter with two scenes. One scene should take up a third of the chapter and the other scene takes the other two thirds. If you have three scenes in a chapter, each scene takes a third of the chapter, but the most dramatic scene doesn't go in the middle. I like to weight the end of the chapter with that third dramatic scene, but sometimes I put it at the front. I very rarely stick the dramatic scene smack in the middle. My story sense tell me that is a very hard sell.

I hope my thoughts have sparked something in you. I hope you look at your work today and are able to solve a problem or two with pacing. It's often not the content of you story that is the problem,it's the way you synthesized the elements.

Good luck! Seize the day!

This week's doodle, "How fast I write".

Quote for the week:

Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.
Ralph Waldo Emerson


Vijaya said...

Thanks, Molly. I've been struggling with pacing my middle. It is so long and drawn out and I fear I'm drowning in it. This is a first draft, so I sort of need to just write through it, but I bet when it's time to slash and burn, I'll intuitively use the golden rule.

Good stuff.

MollyMom103 said...

Pacing is a really complex topic to me. I've just talked about a basic level here. There is balancing pacing but there is pacing in terms of speed through a story. Some stories shoot like a bullet, others circle around, some meander but it makes sense in the end. This differs from story to story. I do think pacing is something you work out in a second or third draft...

I'm doing the golden rule next. ;)

Jen said...

Love, love, love the doodle! It's like you snuck in and took a picture of me at work! Your humor and wisdom keep me going.

Janet Lee Carey said...

Yes to all the great info here, Molly.

I, too, am Turtle!

Come chat with me on Teens Read Too today if you've got a second

Suma Subramaniam said...

Hi Molly,

I got to your blog from a link in Vijaya's. Thanks for posting the great tip. This is giving me a sense of direction to the scene that is cooking inside my mind.


MollyMom103 said...

Hi Suma! I love when a scene is stewing on the burners. Good luck with that. Glad you found some inspiration.