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Zero Exposition: Pacesetter

I have a couple things that I need to talk about, but those will be in tomorrow's monthly update. Nothing bad; in fact its all good news. But for now let's talk about what is going on here.

I will be launching a new podcast, actually launching this time lol, called Zero Exposition. It will be me talking with fellow authors, talking about the techniques and writing that we love and hate.

In conjunction with that, I am going to start giving a theme to my pieces of writing advice, and labeling my advice blogs Zero Exposition. Cool yeah?

If you want to support the podcast, check out my Patreon.

Setting the Pace - Character

In my writing group we have a weekly discussion and last night we discussed Pacing. It was a good discussion and got me thinking about the whole idea of pacing. One thing I wanted to bring up but of course forgot to do so, is the idea of the pacesetter. A pacesetter in this discussion is a character who sets the pace for the entire work, be it short, novella, or full novel. And maybe even in a series, though that can change over time.

In most cases this will be the main character. In a first-person POV, the main character will almost always be the pacesetter. In multiple POV stories, however, one character may end up being the one to set the pace. Or different characters will have different pacing and this may speed up or slow down the pace. How do we tell when a character is the pacesetter for a particular work?

A River Runs Through Them

In the various books of the Belgariad, Polgara is the keeper of the pace, even though she is not the primary protagonist. Especially in the early part of the series and maybe the whole series, Polgara literally keeps everyone on pace. Like a director who slavishly follows a script, Polgara keeps the prophecy rolling towards its hopeful conclusion, much to the annoyance of well, everyone. The through-line of the plot runs through Polgara more than Garion.

In the first Thrawn trilogy, Star Wars novels that basically saved Star Wars along with the Star WArs D6 RPG, the titular character and his machinations set the piece. Make no mistake, Thrawn is the antagonist, but the flow of the series runs through his actions. The other characters, well-known figures like Luke, Leia, and Han, react more to what Thrawn is doing than they acting on their own. This is something I note in some first-person POV, where a particular villain or villain lackey or interested party shows up and slows down or speeds up the pace of the story. But this occurs again and again in the story up until the end.

Gandolf is another example of a character who sets the pace, at least for portions of the Lord of the Rings. In parts of the series where Gandolf is absent, both Frodo and Aragorn take over as the pacesetters.

Who Sets Your Pace?

In my short story Sirocco, Olanna is the primary character and also sets the pace. Her actions drive the story and so when she slows down, so does the story. When she picks up the pace, the pace of the story quickens. This works well for the short story format. Who sets the pace in your own stories? I would love to know.


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