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62

Use film and other literature to inspire you--in particular this song Do you Want to Build a Snow Man. The character is bored. There's empty hallways, but time passes and that's communicated in a number of different ways. In literature Harry Potter is a really good example--boredom is handled well throughout his novels, you can look to any description of ...


42

The purpose of the Kansas section is to establish the Real World before embarking on the Quest (to use the terms from the Hero's Journey). The Real World is the place which the Hero (gender/age/number neutral) must leave behind. You can use it to establish character traits, and the Quest could potentially begin there, but generally I think your beta readers ...


31

Breaking character is not a function of the beginning or destination of the character's journey / progression. Breaking character is not even some out-of-the-way stopover in the middle. Breaking character is any implausible discontinuity between steps. Consider Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader. Which one, you ask? Plucky young boy with promise? Lovesick ...


31

Have you considered doing something like skipping, then describing? Something like (but do consider this first draft quality): The man kept the gun pointed at her. Jane had trained for years, and knew exactly what to do. Moving swiftly and confidently, she wrestled the gun from his hand. The man had been completely unprepared for her hitting his wrist, ...


30

Foreshadowing is your friend. Your example of Harry Potter isn't quite right. Chapter One is titled The Boy Who Lived. Now that's a bit ominous. Magic is hinted at on page 1* and is outright on page 2. "You-Know-Who" is first mentioned on page 5. By page 11, when the name Voldemort is first mentioned, we already know he was a danger and now believed to ...


27

Plot doesn't have to move at an even speed. Just as you can slow-motion over an important battle, you can speed up over long periods of time. A couple of paragraphs evoking boredom: staring at the rain, practising magic, staring at nature some more, counting days, whatever. Then move on to whatever ends the monotony. A lull in the action is also a great ...


26

Several comments, in no particular order: 1) Sometimes the problem with pacing is in the transitions from scene to scene and not in the actual pace of the action. A few extra words at each transition might make a world of difference. 2) Read your chapter out loud to people. That really forces you to experience the work in a different way and often ...


24

I think you can look to Harry Potter for inspiration to answer your question. Every book introduced new species. Some at the beginning of the book, and others in the middle. But they were always introduced before they became important to the story. In the first book, the dragon egg showed up with no real fanfare and became something that fleshed out Hagrid'...


22

Some of the best worldbuilding is done gradually. If you introduce all the elements of your fantasy world very near the beginning, you risk boring your readers with a massive infodump. It's often better to introduce it piece by piece, as long as you do so in a way that seems 'natural'. This is why a lot of fantasy follows the standard Tolkien motif of the ...


18

+1 Henry, those are possible problems. It is hard to diagnose, but you've told us the problem: The reader has stopped caring how the story turns out. Even if the ending is great. Which likely means you are forcing them to read through something they don't want to read and just don't care about. I would guess if they stop reading 2/3 of the way through, ...


18

My impression is that you've got so much going on in so few words, that you never really allow the reader to settle down and experience a scene, understand what's going on, go through your character's thoughts and feelings. Every one of the events you describe should have some sort of buildup, and some sort of resolution. What you have instead, as I ...


18

You seem to suggest that a paragraph that has no other function whatsoever within the narrative, beyond providing an evocative pause, is somehow special, or maybe even "pure". Of course, such a paragraph already serves a function within the pace of the narrative, by providing the pause. Perhaps you want just such a pause: evocative, but not advancing ...


17

If you want examples of successful diplomacy, try CJ Cherryh's Foreigner series, which I think is up to 15 books so far. The main character, Bren, is a diplomat between humans and the non-human species who are native to the planet where the humans crash-landed. Positively fascinating. Hard going at times, but I was never bored. And diplomacy is not ...


17

I've read books written the way yours is currently set up, and I agree with your beta readers --some foreshadowing would help. However, I think you could afford to be fairly subtle about it. The first book of Zelazny's famous Amber series begins in the mundane world, and for a while, no events happen that couldn't have mundane explanations. However, the ...


16

4000 words isn't an awful lot. I understand the need to get the plot rolling, but it's good to establish the mundane that the MC will miss before ripping it from them and taking them on the adventure, and any critic that is complaining about your work solely because it isn't perfectly adhering to genre expectations is frankly impatient and unimaginative. ...


16

Dynamic characters are a good thing. Provided the seeds of growth exist and the path is visible, there is no limit but that which we impose. Sidney Carton went from drunken loser to noble hero - sacrificing his life. We meet character X and they are at A. Something happens and they respond. This experience changes them and they can either change slowly ...


16

Four chapters in, your readers should have an idea what they're in for. Not everything that's going to happen, but certainly a hint. Once you've hinted that there is darkness, you can skirt it, turn your back on it for a while, or plunge right into it as you see fit in different parts of your story. But it can't just show up out of nowhere more than a ...


15

If the scene is boring, it’s not necessary. Think about what you actually need to convey to the reader to move the plot forward, write something interesting that delivers that necessary information, and skip everything else. This may be a good time to break the “show, don’t tell” rule. “Eight hours and two liters of vodka later, Ambassador Königsberg ...


15

1) Might one ask why the character destined to die is named... Cancer? I'm just calling him "Charlie" for the rest of this discussion. 2) Does Charlie have any agency, life, personality, or background of his own, or is his purpose in the story to be fridged and provide manpain for the MC? I'm actually not asking that idly. You are creating a character ...


15

Giving specific editing advice is difficult without first reading the work in question, but here are some additional thoughts for you to consider... When the middle of a story stalls, it is often the result of mistakes made in the earlier chapters. Have you set the hook properly? Is the reader completely engaged in the characters' goals? Does the reader ...


15

As @Wetcircuit suggest, try shifting the focus to the gunman Now, I have no idea how you write your story, but here's an attempt at setting up the scene: Staring straight into the barrel, her heartbeat was the only thing she could hear, as all of her senses sharpened, to show her that this was one of the moments. Those moments where everything came ...


15

Take a look at The Lord of the Rings as an example. Between the tense episode in Moria, that culminated with Gandalf's fall while the other characters escape, and the mounting tension of the Anduin which culminates with Boromir's death and the breaking of the Fellowship, there's not a passage, but three whole chapters of peace in Lothlorien. Those chapters ...


14

In my opinion, a character needs some kind of impetus or crisis or catalyst or heartfelt realization to change their character. To me, that reflects reality. For a positive change of character, something has to cause the change, to make the character either realize they don't want to be the same person, or realize they have been wrong and someone -- ...


14

I don't think the issue is how much the character changes, but whether those changes reasonably follow from the causes. That is, are the changes plausible? People can and do have dramatic personality changes in real life. There's nothing fundamentally implausible about that. Benedict Arnold went from being a war hero to being a traitor. Paul of Tarsus went ...


14

I like your last example. Just keep the speedy action and remove the final sentence that seems out of place for your setting. If your character knows what she's doing, the action she performs will be subconscious; even she won't think about it much, and the prose reflects that. Her hand hit like thunder, whirling the gun away from the man's fingers and ...


14

I've noticed something about many books and movies. Just as two characters are getting into a deep conversation, either sharing something important or showing emotion or leaning forward slowly to kiss, a random passerby will walk right between them. It totally throws them off and - you would think - breaks things up. But instead, it actually heightens the ...


13

I don't think 4000 words is too long; not at all. I am presuming this is a 100,000 word novel, I think you have 10% (10,000 words) for something "magical" to happen. I base that on the standard Three Act Structure, the first 10% of your work is introducing us to the Real World of your protagonist. This is a rare case, because the modern reader is buying a ...


12

The answer to this question really depends on which scale you are talking about: do you want to slow down a paragraph? A scene? A chapter? The whole story? You talked about the story in general in one of your comments, so I'm going to focus on that. Here are a few ideas: Reflection If you're following the structure of scene and sequel by Dwight Swain (see ...


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