|My list of assignments, because I'm organized!|
In other news, I am glad to say that I am HAPPY with the mark I received for my first Writing Craft assessment, 'Sketching with Words' and hope to get even better on the assessment I just handed in today, 'Memory as Seed'. My third and final assessment for the semester isn't due until June, so perhaps I'll find time to write something else between now and then.
You know you haven't been utilizing your creative outlet often enough when you notice an increase in how often you zone out, daydream and talk to yourself when you're alone... Yes, I have noticed an increase.
Have I mentioned how crappy the internet connection on campus is? It's really crappy.
Also: I found the notes I lost from my tutorial last week. Yay! Moving on!
Readings for week 6 were Trouble is my Business by Raymond Chandler (pages 7-23), The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker (pages 1-17) and Astronauts by Tim Richards (pages 239-251).
The first thing the lecturer wanted to stress was that pace was mostly about variation. It is a composition of speeds and slownesses. In writing, pace is the effect or effects of how time passes for the reader. How do we experience time in our bodies and minds when we read? Pace could also be described as imitating or upsetting the rhythm of things. Our lecturer had us listen to some different musical compositions when she told us this. One of them had a beat that was like an imitation heartbeat and it infected everybody in the lecture theatre. But something that all of the pieces of music she shared with us had in common was that the pace varied. There would be lulls in the fast-paced pieces and then it would pick up again. The slow-paced pieces would speed up suddenly and then slow down again. It was interesting to take note of.
Some tools for manipulating pace are:
- Sentence length (Longer sentences can be good for slow-pace scenes, using lots of clauses separated by commas, making it hard for the reader to catch a breath, but perhaps making a more detailed image, especially when describing something. Short sentences work better in fast-pace scenes, forcing us to pause more often and breathe, making the clauses feel more fragmented or simplified.)
- Word length and word choice
- Paragraph length
- Register of vocabulary (whether it is posh, jargony, rigorous, vague...)
- Punctuation (This can give the writing a certain personality.)
- The white space on a page
- Strategy in description
Our lecturer described somebody who constantly keeps up a fast pace in their writing as similar to a teenage rock band who never plays slower music, because mistakes are more likely to be recognized, but eventually it gets boring and monotonous. Faster is not always more desirable and variation in pace is important. Important details can be caught more easily between the fast-pace scenes of a story, but you need something slow-to-medium-paced to put between them.
Pace can also be set by dialogue. We can get a feel of whether the character is a fast-pace character or a slow-pace character by their dialogue. Dialogue should always be deliberate and purposeful and it is important to remember that readers don't want the typical conversation full of ums and ahs you'd have in real life; dialogue in good fiction is often unrealistic. Of course, that doesn't mean disregard realistic dialogue all together, but you should try and aim for the more witty, meaningful, influential words when your character says something; not necessarily something that you'd be able to think of on the spot in real life... unless you happen to be one of those unrelentingly witty, meaningful and influential people.
Something that can catch us out and slow our pace in a bad way is when we overload the detail. So if you read over a scene that you feel should be fast-pace, but you find it's dragging, remember that you don't need to tell your reader EVERY linking detail between Point A and Point B, because our own brains will fill in the obvious details for us. Always be aware of your pace and whether it is working or not.
Have you noticed different paces in your writing? Try writing a scene while listening to fast-paced music, and then try writing it again while listening to slow-paced music. Try to match the pace of your writing to that of the music. I did this in my tutorial and I'll share it later in the week.