Creative Intersections: Pacing and Plotting

This week I return to my series of posts on Creative intersections. Thus far, I have discussed point of view and worldbuilding, plot and character development, and worldbuilding and plot. Today, I am going to address plotting once again, and combine it with a discussion of pacing.

In my opinion, pacing is one of the most difficult elements of storytelling to master. We all have read books that seem to drag at certain times or that become so frenetic that they are almost impossible to read. And yet, I would never suggest that you try to make your pace consistent throughout an entire novel; to my mind, novels, like great pieces of music, have mixed dynamics. There are slower passages and fast ones, periods where everything is loud and exciting, and periods of calm, during which your readers have a chance to catch their collective breath. The key is, how […]

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Wrestling the TMP

I’ve been rewatching some old Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes on BBC America lately, remembering how much I liked the show’s innovative approach to familiar sci-fi scenarios. But I’m also reminded of something that always drove me nuts: Deanna Troi’s intermittent empathic sensory perception which allowed her to read people’s unspoken feelings. I say intermittent because her ability was often crucial to the episode’s story, but at other times—when it would have been really useful—it went on the blink: the emotions of the crew were running too high, or there was atmospheric turbulence of some kind, or the target being scanned was the wrong species… In each case, she was suddenly unable to get a clear fix on how someone was feeling.

Of course, the truth is that in most of those episodes Deanna’s abilities had to be switched off or else the episode would fall apart. Without all […]

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