More Drama, Less Action

FightI am currently getting feedback from my brilliant Beta readers on Bindcrafter, and the question as to whether certain sections are too slow has cropped up. But what do we mean by too slow?

Assuming you haven’t added extraneous characters or plotlines which are frustrating to readers, most likely they mean it’s dragging. They don’t often mean slow in the normal sense, let’s get it out there – they mean boring.

So how do you make things less boring? Explosions, fights, murder, deaths?

Not necessarily.

Adding action won’t make your story seem any more interesting to readers, if they’re not invested in it.

So, what’s missing?

DRAMA.

DEF: an exciting, emotional, or unexpected event or circumstance

Exciting can be anything from getting a new puppy to opening exam results. Emotions manifest in interaction between characters and good point of view. Unexpected events can be anything from getting a fly in your soup to finding out your house is about to be demolished by your local council.

You can add a fight scene for drama, as long as it’s exciting – but you need to leverage drama to make it exciting. Getting punched in the face isn’t in itself very interesting. Imagine if you went to see some Shakespeare and the actors spent half the play hitting each other? And we’re all hoping for longer fights in the next Transformers movie, aren’t we? The point is, action in itself isn’t interesting if it’s not dramatic.

Cheap cliché alert: Make that punch an emotional one 😉

The best drama comes through interactions between characters, and change in your protagonist’s feelings. Takeaway: Look for the emotional impact your characters are having on your readers, before adding another explosion.

Too Much Stuff

lotofbooksHelp! I’m drowning, I’m suffocating under a slush pile of entertainment.

If this is the future once the robots take over, bring back the 7-day-working-week and 4 channels on the tele. Get the robots to watch all the damn TV series, listen to all the podcasts, read all the books, and then see if they have time to get to the cinema – which they won’t enjoy anyway once they see the price of a family pack of iron filings and a gallon of diet oil.

Here’s just a taster of some of the awesome things I haven’t finished recently (never mind not got round to):

  • Orphan Black (watched all five seasons, got as far as ep 4 season five)
  • Arrow (mid-season-two)
  • Stormlight Archive (Way of Kings is great, the other installments broke my shelves)
  • Lies of Locke Lamora (got a third way in, cool book, deserves more attention)
  • Agents of Shield (TV crack which I replaced with something else)
  • Wheel of Time (didn’t get past the prologue, if I manage to make another me, an ‘Ebony’ if you will, maybe he’ll do it)
  • The Shannara Chronicles TV version (did anyone get past ep 2?)
  • The Revenant (got to the horrible forest bit and thought ‘this is a bit heavy going’)
  • Most of the Netflix Marvel spinoffs (Jessica Jones and Daredevil the exception)

Ironically, I sat through the whole of Get Hard

Maybe the problem’s me. Oh well, at least I got to the end of this post.

Star Trek Discovery

Why Discovery is the best Star Trek to date, and so much better than Star Wars …

Star Trek DiscoveryWhat’s not to love about the new Star Trek? Discovery combines all the best elements from previous Star Trek series – ‘early’ tech (but not so early that it’s boring), at least one alien officer (arguably more), a well-defined enemy (the Klingons), an original concept for propulsion in the Spore Drive and very cool ship design, a great captain, played perfectly by Lucius Malfoy himself. And, of course, production values are the best to date, on par with the recent cinematic reboot.

And why has this new incarnation reminded me of why I will always be a Trekkie over a Warsie? Simply, they’ve never made a ‘proper’ TV show in the Star Wars universe. In a series, there’s more time to get into the characters, more room for comment and subplots, and having to squeeze a whole story (usually) into a one-hour slot leads to sharper, more focussed writing, most of the time.

The only element of the new series I’m not hot on is the Klingons speaking in subtitles while some horrible squawking noise occurs on screen. But, hey, too late to go back now.

Excited for the next ep!