A Six Cities pacing exercise

The piece below is the result of some experimentation with the pacing of my work.

A lot of my older pieces are very descriptive, I tend to get carried away trying to get a lot of detail about a scene down on paper when a lot of it isn’t necessary to the audience’s understanding of what’s going on and I frequently get feedback that this causes the pace of the piece to drag. A picture paints a thousand words, so I suppose this is an outcome of my latent desire to be a landscape and character artist – something I’ve not pursued since I was around 16 after realising I was about as good at drawing as I was at flying.

Before starting the piece below I thought about what I’d been reading recently that moved at a very fast pace. Focusing on the Tales of the Ketty Jay series by Chris Wooding I went back to look at the level of description vs dialogue and action that made up the book, and made an effort to shift the tone of this piece away from the description-heavy style that I normally use and more towards Chris’s style. I deliberately didn’t push it to his extreme, the snippet I had in mind didn’t contain enough action to get away with his frugal use of description, but it was certainly a different experience to write whilst watching the descriptive word-count.

I should say a little about Six Cities. People paying attention may have noticed the tag appended to a number of older posts here without there being much explanation as to what it is. In my head I have two settings bouncing around and swapping ideas between them. Neither has a proper name, but as “Project Two” took over more and more time in my imagination and started spilling out onto paper I thought it needed some form of identity. I doubt it’ll stick in the long run, but for now everything written in the second of my two settings will have this tag. I hope one day to get “Project One” out to the world a little more, but “Project Two” has done the mental equivalent of stealing it’s lunch money and taken a lot of it’s good ideas so there’s more work to be done to get that one ready for prime-time.

This piece was originally written in late November 2014, over a long weekend at my partner’s parents house away from my normal distractions.

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“Six Cities” teaser piece

Well, it’s finished. Not anything major, mind, just the first draft of the teaser piece I mentioned, oh… two months ago now.

I’ll be honest, this piece became a bit of a nightmare to finish as, whilst I was writing it, I fell out of love with the project and lost steam with my writing, not helped by a number of other distractions coming up that gave me a convenient excuse to stay away. I remembered three days ago that I was writing this piece (and that I had a blog) so set myself the task of finishing it in some form, even if it wasn’t quite what I originally had in mind.

I am not overly happy with the finished product but I have learned a number of lessons whilst working on it that are going to both make things easier for me in future and help me produce more interesting reads. I will talk about a few specifics at the end of the piece but, for those of you who do read it, I’d like to give you the opportunity to form your own opinion first.

I haven’t yet had feedback from my regular goof-checker so expect an edit shortly to fix any big bloopers I have somehow missed. EDIT: Goof-checking feedback now rolled into the text below. Apologies all who read the previous typo-filled version!

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