Monday, 13 February 2012

Drama Doesn't Have To Be Noisy or Fast

At the Get Writing Conference at the weekend I did a workshop for young people on creating story lines and was talking about pace and the need to get stories moving forwards. One of the students asked about this, citing Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy as an example where nothing happened ie there weren't any gun fights or car chases.

Now, that's not pace. Yes, a car chase is fast, but pace in writing is not about the rate of speed, it's more about the tension. The latest James Bond Quantum of Solace had its quota of car chases and explosions but I actually dropped off to sleep while watching it because it lacked any tension.

Think about doing a jigsaw puzzle (or a crossword, or a Sudoko puzzle or anything similar). You start with a great mass of pieces all jumble together and slowly, slowly, you begin to work out which bit goes where. There are small moments of triumph when you get the corners fixed, and huge satisfaction when that piece you could never find a place for suddenly slots into its rightful place. It's completely absorbing while you're doing it and when the puzzle is finished you sit back with a sense of completion and a happy sigh.

It's that sense of satisfaction, that 'ahh' moment that we're trying to achieve as writers. The story unfolds as things fall into place, and they don't have to be noisy or fast to have tension or absorb the reader.

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