So, both the Professor and S. felt like things were maybe strangely paced. Which is like hearing… I don’t know… honestly, is there anything worse than hearing that there’s a pacing problem? It both feels like a word that tells you nothing and a word that is pretty exact in its description. It’s like someone saying “Your face is green.” You can’t deny something is wrong, you can’t really deny what is wrong, but do you see a doctor? Use some reddish tinged foundation? Get some flying monkeys and accept you’re forever going to be upstaged by a girl in gingham?
I’ve been doing a lot of reading up on pacing problems, but I felt like I needed some kind of broad overview that might show me some issues. And so I made this chart, up above, which is the number of pages in each chapter clumped together by section. And here’s some interesting information that’s hard to see from within the book. The first two chapters introduce my protagonist and my antagonist. They’re pretty equal in length, which makes sense.
Then I have some short chapters that cover Sue’s development. I have a really long chapter where my protagonist and antagonist meet and then it tapers off to where the 13 is (those bottom numbers don’t really correspond to chapter numbers, but it’s helpful to have them there for reference). So, I think that the whole first roughly third of my book is kind of shaped okay. We spend the most time on the most important moment.
But now look at this mess between 15 and 21. I suspect this may feel like a part that’s strangely paced because we spend a little time, then a lot, then a little, then a lot, then a lot, then the most. I suspect that part doesn’t feel like it either builds to anything OR that it is a release after a really important moment. The shape just says to me “strange pacing” and indicates a place I want to take a closer look at. And then look at 25-29. I have grave concerns about whether that chapter at 26 really is the most important chapter in the book, and yet, it’s the biggest chapter. And since we’re leading right up to the climactic confrontation between my protagonist and antagonist, what does it mean to have such a huge chapter so close to the end? Does it misplace the emphasis of the end of the book? I’ll be looking at that, too.
Honestly, revising is really difficult. I’m used to blogging, frankly, where I throw up some crap and, if it sucks, well, I’ll do better in the future or have done better in the past or something. But this kind of work needs real re-envisioning. And it’s not something I’m good at.