One of the hardest things about writing fiction is finding a balance between telling a story that makes sense and flows well, while also making the necessary details and plausible events (for the world you’re writing about) as interesting and gripping as you can.
Not EVERY scene is going to be a big “action” scene, and that’s okay. Down time is okay, even very much needed at certain moments.
As an author, though, I try to remember that there’s a difference between down time and slow time.
“Slow time” (for me) is when a scene is boring. Even slower paced moments don’t need to constitute “slow time.” We should always try to make a slower paced moment as interesting and as believable as possible. That’s the key: INTERESTING plus CREDIBLE.
One thing I like to consider doing when I feel a scene I have is bordering on “slow time”–ESPECIALLY in a first draft, as I’m writing it for the first time– is to ask myself:
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF I ADDED ANOTHER CHARACTER TO THIS MOMENT?
What effect would introducing character X, Y, or Z into the scene have? What energy, what conflict, would arise? What changes (even improvements) might this make to the plan I have for where my novel is going?
When you are writing, or editing, and you feel a scene is slow, why not take a moment to consider adding a new character? Some thoughts about how to make these considerations:
- The character doesn’t have to be an established character. It can be a new character. Some of my favorite characters in my novels came about in this way. I introduced into a scene halfway through, to fill a need, and then edited them into previous moments too.
- Don’t shy from considering adding a character who would cause problems! Maybe character “A” needs to tell character “B” something, and that’s the whole point. What would happen if character “C” comes and interrupts? What if character “C” (who can’t know the news!) hears it, or prevents “A” from talking? It could cause a domino chain of things that you had never considered before. All of a sudden, new ideas for action, for plot, for conflicts, are popping up in your head as directions your story can take.
Victoria Grefer is the author the Herezoth trilogy, which begins with “The Crimson League” and has new editions coming out next Summer.