I’m working on a series on pacing.  You can see other posts in the series here.

Now that we’ve looked at words, sentences, dialogue, and paragraphs…let’s look at plot.

Plot has pacing, just like everything else in writing.  The number and type of events in a plot add another layer to the pacing, beyond words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and scenes.

George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (a.k.a. Game of Thrones) has multiple characters and plot lines in every book.  Some of the characters have an arc throughout the book; some of them have arcs that span across books.  Some of the POVs don’t last very long; their arcs are interrupted and end in death.

“The Cask of Amontillado” has one POV character, no more than a handful of words of backstory, simple characterizations, and few, if any, of the usual structures that you’d find in a Joseph Campbell plot.  It’s under 3,000 words.

Here’s the plot:

  • SETUP:
    • My friend finally crossed the line, and I determined to have my revenge.
    • I never responded to his insults; he didn’t realize that my emotions had turned.
    • He was a genuine conoisseur of wine.
  • HERE’S HOW IT WENT DOWN:
    • I met my friend at Carnivale while he was drunk.
    • And told him that I had some exotic damn wine that only he could really be entrusted to drink.
    • His greed got the better of him, despite his cold.
    • Greed and buffoonery drove him forward.  I tried to make him go back, see?
    • Forgive me my little jokes, hints to my victim as to what was to come.  It amused me.
    • He just stood there while I locked him up.
  • THE CLIMAX:
    • Even after I locked him up, I asked him one last time if he wanted to leave.
    • No, no, he wouldn’t have it; he’d rather have the Amontillado.
    • I started bricking him up.
    • Then he started to sober up.  First he was silent.  Then he tried to escape.  Could not the man apologize for what he had done?
    • I continued.  He screamed, either at me or for help.  I was frightened, and may have poked around a bit with my rapier.
    • He kept shouting; I tested the wall, and it was secure all right.  I started yelling back.
    • With one stone left, he tried to convince me that it was all a joke.
    • I never joke.
    • He demanded that I free him for the love of God.
    • He never once apologized, I’ll have you know.
  • THE WRAPUP:
    • I finished walling him up.  I felt kind of bad, but here I am, fifty years later, a free man.  RIP, my friend.

No try/fail cycles, no twists and turns, no real wordcount.

Looking for more writing advice?  I’m adding a writer’s resources section to the Wonderland Press newsletter.  Click here to sign up.