Pacing in fan fic

UPDATED: Friday, February 10, 2006 14:00
VIEWED: 1723
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Friday, February 10, 2006 6:38 AM


I've just started writing a fan fic "Over the Hills and Far Away". I'm only in the middle of writing chapter two, and already I'm having trouble pacing my story. When I write, I tend to write long chunks that are somewhat introspective, filled with characters taking time to having little flashback here and there, to contemplate their relationships, etc. It's a lot of fun to write, but I think it is really going to screw up the pacing of my fic in the long run.

That said, I was wondering if anyone has had any similiar problems, or has any tips pacing? Are there any tests you guys use to gage how fast or slow your story is moving, and whether this is good or bad? Right now, I'm just trying to make sure that my main plot advances in each chapter and that it does not get swallowed by fun, but less important, subplots (I have been a busy outlining bunny).

Also, for anyone who feels especially winded, I was wondering one more thing. How important, in fan fic, is it to end each chapter with a cliffhanger of sorts? I figure that since there is a substancial amount of time passing between each chapter that it is a good idea because then it will give readers something to look forward to. The problem is that I am not the best with cliffhangers, lol. So, opinions?

Peace. - Arcadia

"Objects in Space"
River: It's just an object. It doesn't mean what you think...


Friday, February 10, 2006 6:46 AM


Hey there. Well, as pacing goes I usually just write what I have to write so I can't really give you any tips cause I don't even know what the heck I'm doing lol.

But cliffhangers...well I've been called a devil author more than once...but I think that's a good thing. I just think about what I want to happen and then try to think about what would leave me wanting to know more. If you take a look, every chapter to pretty fits ends in a cliffhanger. At first that was unintential, but then I started to get the hang of it, so I reccommend them.
Shiny writing!

"See this is another sign of your tragic space dementia, all paranoid and crotchety. Breaks the heart." -Mal


Friday, February 10, 2006 6:54 AM


Hm, usually it comes down to the readers' tastes as to whether or not they like the longer works with introspection, flashbacks etc. or want something more plot-based and action/adventure. But if you're really worried you could always ask a few buddies to Beta and help you edit out any superflous prose.

Don't do cliffhangers just for the sake of having cliffhangers - fanfiction is riddled with bad, forced, or pointless cliffhangers. If it works within the story, groovy, but they aren't required.

In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and is widely regarded as a bad move. - Douglas Adams


Friday, February 10, 2006 7:21 AM


Without getting into too much depth, I always try to keep certain general rules in mind.

First, (and this pertains to me, it might or might not pertain to anyone else), I try to write in a way and a pace that would be natural in a spoken, storyteller way. When you read aloud, there is a natural flow. If you can keep that flow in what you are writing, then it should help your pacing.

Second, the longer your story goes, the more you should have mini-conflicts and/or cliffhangers that are resolved a bit later. They may or may not have to do with overriding climax. They might not even be what you would consider a cliffhanger per se, but something that provokes the reader to immediately go to the next chapter to see what happens next.

I bring this up as a subset of the second point but it's important enough to be the third. When I write, I live by the notion of 'always leave them wanting more'. You have to keep a reader interested in what they are reading. This sometimes requires some planning and foresight to set up the story to follow this notion and to have the mini-conflicts appear natural and on purpose.

--Victory and defeat are matters of the temporary force of circumstance. Even if it seems certain that you will lose, continue. Neither wisdom nor technique has a place in this.--


Friday, February 10, 2006 7:53 AM


Now, I never claimed to be a good writer, just a prolific one. As well, the way I write is more like Firefly-That-Was, a series of episodes, each with their own self-contained story which could be independantly read and enjoyed. That said, I have almost never left the story at the cliff's edge (end of season one notwithstanding).
I say, you should pace the episode however you want it to feel. If you want to convey a sense of panic, make sure the pacing reflects a mind which has entirely too much being thrown at it. Calm, you go for smooth transitions. Hell, one of my episodes spanned a MONTH, and was intended to represent a breather, for the crew to collect itself, before I threw something bigger and real-damn-meaner at them.
Despite what I said, I do believe in leavin' things unresolved. People have a tendancy to show up again. Things ain't exactly learned in their proper time, and some conflicts just get shifted to the back burner rather than doused. Big Damn Villians escape to try and kill you another day. If they were even in this episode...
Yeah, Legacy's got a whole acre of enemies...


Friday, February 10, 2006 8:16 AM


Anti-Russia before it was cool.

I would like to weigh in with some advice of my own...


Originally posted by Arcadia:
(I have been a busy outlining bunny).

...make this your tagline.

If not, can I use it?

KPO - 'One perfect in knowledge is with you'


Friday, February 10, 2006 2:00 PM


I actually have the opposite problem. I'm currently in the first stages of a story called "Rare Old Times" and I find that I can't seem to get past the actiony bits. It's nearly all dialogue, with very little introspection and I can't figure out how much I need to break up the witty reparte and gunfights with real substantive relationship and character development. I figure as I get closer to the end, through the build-up of the story it might come through naturally. But I just don't know...


They weren't cows inside. They were waiting to be, but they forgot. Now they see the sky, and they remember what they are.






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