As I read back on my blog, I realized something.
I haven’t made a post about tea in months. So I wracked my brain and decided to find a writing topic that also includes tea.
Pacing: Why Breaks are Important
Pacing in writing is important because it gives a story balance. You need to find that balance between the action scenes and the heartfelt slow scenes that help audiences and your characters inhale and process what the actual fuck just happened. Having a story that’s all action is comparable to having a school day with no lunch break or a really busy day with no time to yourself. It’s exhausting and most people need that break in order to function better for the rest of the day.
There’s no real way to dictate how you pace your writing, but one simple method is to have your characters in a scene where they just talk. No explosions, no plot reveals, they just talk. This can be considered ‘filler’ when using a visual medium and while it may not have any impact on your plot as a whole, it can reveal aspects of your characters that won’t come to light when you’re just writing action scene after action scene.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
I should just rename this blog as an Avatar; The Last Airbender analysis blog but anyways, this show does pacing really well, specifically with the episode Tales of Ba Sing Sei. The episode takes place in the Earth Kingdom capital of Ba Sing Sei and it’s a refreshing breather from all the fighting and pain that the main group is going through. Katara and Toph go to a spa, Sokka has a poetry battle, Aang relocates a sad zoo, Zuko goes on a date, Momo looks for Appa and Iroh destroys our souls.
Anyways, these short stories show us facets of the characters we don’t normally see. Zuko is shown to be vulnerable, Sokka gets to demonstrate his wit in something other than battle tactics and Iroh becomes even dearer to us.
Lord of the Rings
One of the things Tolkien gets ribbed about constantly is the slowness of his books, in how he describes every single leaf and while this is true, his style of pacing allows us to drink in the amazing world he built and appreciate the costs of war that much more.
In the first book, soon after Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin leave the Shire, they run into trouble in the woods, from which they are saved by Tom Bombadil. He invites them into his home, where they rest while it rains.
This isn’t the only example of when this happens but it is one of my favourites because it a) echoes Bilbo’s stay with Bjorn and b) presents a comforting view on someone wild and untameable. It gives Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin a couple days where they don’t have to worry about Ringwraiths and the Dark Lord and they can just breathe and realize how much farther they still have to go.
It happens again and again. Every ten-twenty pages, Tolkien takes the time to write about the cast just sitting and eating and talking. It helps us bond to the characters and makes everyone seem more human, from the wild force that is Tom Bombadil and the Ents to the creepy, slimy bulbous Gollum.
Apart from the castle itself, the place the Trio spends much of their time at is Hagrid’s cottage. The homely building on the edge of the Forbidden Forest is much like the half-giant himself. A little shabby and a little worn but still full of love. The visits to Hagrid’s hut and Hagrid himself allows the trio to reflect and form opinions without the pressure of Snape or Draco looking over their shoulder.
JK Rowling uses these breaks and other little moments, like the Yule Ball in The Goblet of Fire to give Harry and the reader just to enjoy the beauty of Hogwarts. The candles floating in the great hall, the fluffiness of Fang, Hagrid’s mismatched tea set. It draws the eye away from the doom and gloom of the looming prophecy.
Pacing is about more than just pausing to give the reader a moment to appreciate the wildness of your world. Unless your heroes aren’t human, having them just fight battle after battle is unrealistic and your readers will eventually be desensitized to all the gore. Show us the backroom deals that allow your villain to evade the consequences, have a little farming couple take in the hero after he’s hurt, have a mentor share a pot of tea with their student. Show that there’s more to your writing than death and destruction.
A story is like a pot of tea, drink too much too fast and you burn your tongue and ruin the rest of the pot, drink too little too late and your pot is cold and while iced tea is good, if it’s the middle of winter you just want that hot tea. A good story, like a pot of tea, takes the time to brew and then is drunk in cups to space it out.
Anyways, I hope this helps and happy writing!