pacing

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RandiS
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pacing

Post by RandiS » September 16th, 2010, 10:40 pm

I'm working on my first novel. YA fiction. The first draft is finished and I've had several friends and colleagues read it. One of my readers is a very analytical high school English teacher who writes book and film critiques, and I really value his opinion, but I'm not sure how to handle some comments he had on pacing.
The plot of my book is spread over a two week period. On certain days, important events occur that relate directly to the plot. Early on in the book, there is a weekend where nothing really happens, so I gloss over it with a couple of sentences. My friend says that I fly through a four day time period too quickly, and that I should write something in there to allow the characters time to develop and allow the reader time to breathe.
My book is already 60k words; from what I have researched, that is about right for YA fiction. Do I really want to stretch out the book with some more character development in order to slow the pace? I understand adults wanting more time to get to know characters, but don't teen readers want more action?
Just curious how others handle "slow days" in their novels - I thought it was acceptable to skip days or "fast forward", so to speak, to focus on action that advances the plot, but my friend found it distracting and disturbing to the overall flow of the book. Any tips or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

RandiS
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Re: pacing

Post by RandiS » September 16th, 2010, 10:51 pm

I'm replying to myself because I just found a very similar question posed a month ago on this board. So, let me focus my question just a little...do you think YA fiction differs from "grown up" fiction in terms of pacing?

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HillaryJ
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Re: pacing

Post by HillaryJ » September 19th, 2010, 5:29 pm

My sense is that pacing is directed by the genre, and if it's a literary work, then perhaps by the focus. Is it active or adventurous? Is the plot complicated or does it contain a mystery? 60K is a median word count for YA. You have some room if you believe the story and the characters need more development. Have you gotten feedback from readers in your demographic?
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DMM87
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Re: pacing

Post by DMM87 » September 22nd, 2010, 1:02 am

I'm not quite a "young adult" anymore (I'm 24) but I still read like one. And the YA reader in me says to be very careful if you add more to your novel simply to add more character development. You have to make sure that whatever you add, not only develops the characters, but is meaningful to the plot. I'll be honest: if you give me filler, I will skim through most of it, only stopping for dialogue. If the dialogue is boring, I'll skim it all. Your agent or editor, hopefully, would have enough sense to cut your addition out if its filler, but that doesn't always happen.

When I write YA, I keep in mind that I am competing with I-pods, SmartPhones, video games, television, and friends. Yes, adults have distractions, too, but they are generally better at filtering those distractions out. While teens are capable of reading the same material as adults, I do strongly feel that they require their own stories that reflect their lifestyles and attention spans.

Let me ask you this: When you read the novel, does it make sense the way the characters act from the part before the 4 day span to the part after? Do the characters develop naturally or do you need to explain more as to why character behave in certain ways?

I hope this helps.

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Re: pacing

Post by RandiS » September 24th, 2010, 1:27 pm

HillaryJ wrote:My sense is that pacing is directed by the genre, and if it's a literary work, then perhaps by the focus. Is it active or adventurous? Is the plot complicated or does it contain a mystery? 60K is a median word count for YA. You have some room if you believe the story and the characters need more development. Have you gotten feedback from readers in your demographic?
Thanks for the comments. It is a fairly complicated plot with a lot of twists. It is not a superfluous 60K words at this point, so it's good to know I have some room for more development. I have had 5 readers in my teen demographic target read the book, and from their comments (most of which consisted of teenage girls' favorite adjective: "amazing", which is sweet and flattering but really doesn't tell me anything useful) there is nothing wrong with my pacing, so I'm going with that.

I also realized that teens hate my ending, which was interesting to me because so far my adult readers have said they really liked the ending. That leaves me in a bit of a conundrum, but I think I probably should do something to the ending if my target audience unanimously hates it!
DMM87 wrote: Let me ask you this: When you read the novel, does it make sense the way the characters act from the part before the 4 day span to the part after? Do the characters develop naturally or do you need to explain more as to why character behave in certain ways?

I hope this helps.
That did help...thank you. I can't see any problem with the "missing weekend" - it leaves off on a Friday afternoon and picks back up on a Monday morning. I did add a couple of lines where my MC reflects on what happened during the weekend, just in case anyone was wondering, but I think that's all I need. I also added a little here and there to create more pause between significant events, but I don't think it reads like filler. I'm like you - I skim over long descriptive passages when I read and find myself searching for a return to the plotline when I sense filler. I tried to be sensitive to that when I wrote, and I think most of what happens in the book serves to advance the plot.

Thanks for the feedback!

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