Flow

I just finished reviewing one of the new chapters that I added to Dragon last week.  There’s still a few more sections of new stuff to revise, but this chapter was the one I was most concerned about.

That’s because when I read it through the first time, after writing it, the flow was badly off.

The flow of a scene has a lot to do with a variety of things.  In this case, it was a combination of two things: winding conversation and reading pace.

The winding conversation, while contributing to the problem, was necessary for the scene.  The reality of the situation (two sisters discussing something that one is familiar with and the other is not) sets it up for a convoluted, meandering mess.  That’s how the conversation would go in real life, and anything more organized would feel faked.  While I tweaked it just a bit (to clarify a few things) I left this mostly as I wrote it.

The reading pace was another issue altogether.  You can follow a meandering conversation if you do it slowly enough, but readers have a tendency to read at the pace you set.  Most of the sentences were short, dialog was piled on top of itself, and there was very little to take in besides the words.  It made me confused, and I wrote it!

I fixed the problem by adding more non-dialog details to the chapter.  I had the sisters pause and consider their replies; I spent more time with the older sister, our point-of-view character, describing her emotional and mental reactions to the conversation.  I also made some of the sentences longer, since longer sentences tend to make you read a little slower.

The end result is much better.  I’ll go back and read it again, once I’ve had some time away from it, but I’m much happier with it now than I was before I started.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. journeyofjordannaeast
    May 15, 2012 @ 19:57:24

    I’m always tinkering with the flow of my chapters. If I stopped tinkering, I might actuall finish the damn thing, Good luck with yours!

    Reply

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