Pace and Point of View

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Business first: So far no bites on King’s Mark. Whether it is the story, the writing, or just a bad fit with their current lists, I’ve crossed out most of my first round agents.

That doesn’t mean I’m giving up – far from it! I’ve researched and applied to another promising handful who I hope will like my work. There are tons of great agents out there and it would be foolish not to query widely. I believe in the story, and I just need one other person (who happens to have a very specific job) to agree with me.

Moving on… I made it through another chunk of Thieves this week! I’m at 12,000 words! Granted, some of the new material doesn’t progress the story from where I left off. It needs to fit in earlier.

Which brings me to my revelation of the week – I finally figured out what is bothering me about Thieves. It’s the pace. I wanted it to move quickly, and boy howdy does it. Too quickly.

Here’s my theory: I don’t like ‘wasting’ words on unimportant bits of the story. I only want to write interesting parts. So I figured out the first few big events in Thieves and set to work writing them, expecting I’d figure out where to go next along the way. Although that worked great for King’s Mark, this time – not so much. When I reached the end of the short stretch of the story I knew about, I couldn’t move forward. I was missing something.

The problem is that I’m limiting myself to one POV (point of view) for this book. I’m not used to that yet. I think jumping from important scene to important scene worked for King’s Mark because at the beginning I had three plots and four POVs. Because I was introducing new characters, situations, settings, and POVs all the way through Ch. 6, I could stick to the bare essentials without it going too fast (introductions are necessarily slower, so you can immerse the reader without jarring them). Each scene could build off of the knowledge introduced in the previous scene without exposition or summary or even as much character reflection as you usually get.

With one POV, I can’t delay a bit of information that I know will come out naturally through another character’s situation. I can’t jump from big moment to big moment – just like I couldn’t string all of Chay’s scenes together in a vacuum and expect them to work. I don’t need to be boring, but I need to intentionally stretch some things out. The reader is going to gain their footing much faster in this book, I can’t rely on tricks like the structure of the book to slow them down and prevent them from looking down the rabbit holes. In other words… I need to write better!

And I have determined that I’m still a discovery writer. I’ve been struggling to produce an outline for weeks with little progress. But I realized that what helped me get through King’s Mark will also help me get through Thieves – I only have 1 POV, but I still have 3 stories. Each character’s story in King’s Mark was relatively simple, it was together that they gained complexity. By thinking about them separately, I was able to focus on what was important during any given scene. It got more complicated near the end, but by then I had a good grasp of my characters and I could handle thinking about them interacting.

In Thieves, I have one main character, but she has a much more complicated story. This complexity has been daunting, but now I know I can break it up by realizing that she lives in 3 distinct worlds. The people she interacts with know different parts of her, and she acts differently and wants different things with each set. By separating this out, I can see her motives and keep her consistent. Things will start to fall apart, mix, and get messy again, but by then I will be more comfortable with the story.

Anyway, that is the plan! We’re going to give it a try, but I’m already feeling better about this story 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Pace and Point of View

  1. Hey Steph, sounds like some good revelations for you. Glad to hear it. I'm looking forward to reading more Thieves as you figure this stuff out.

    One thing that worked for me on my last two novels was to spend a few pages having the main characters 'tell' the story from their POV. That was interesting and set up some good conflicts and plot points.

    Keep sending your book out but not just to agents. Send it to editors as well. Editors are the ones who can pay you for it.

  2. That's a good idea, perhaps I'll give it a try! For King's Mark, I eventually wrote a big long piece from Lady Isra's POV to helped me narrow down her history and motivations, it helped a lot.

    Right now I'm focusing on agents and not sending to editors because it is a mark against you to have narrowed the field – if you've already approached an editor and they've said no, even if it is because of something that isn't the story/writing, then you can't approach them again with the same piece of work.

    I'll move to editors later on if I decide that's the next step, but for now, I want to give King's Mark the best chance at hitting an editor just right – which is one thing an agent can help me with. Besides, I want an agent for more reasons than just this one book 🙂

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