Have you ever read a book that was really long, and just interesting enough to hold your attention, though you felt like you had to trudge through the boring parts to get to the good parts? Or perhaps the same could be said about a song or piece of music.
Maybe it's my short attention span, but I find myself doing that often.
The last book I read was a good 800 pages long. What actually happened in the book could have fit within a novel half that long (in my opinion). So, what dragged out the book? A few things, really. First, it's book six of a long series and it spends a lot of time retelling what happened in the previous books. Second, there is a lot of detail about the setting, again, in my opinion, too much detail. To me, it doesn't add to the story to know what every item in the room is made out of.
What keeps me reading a book like that? Well, the characters and overall story are interesting. In addition, I've already invested a lot of time in the series, so I'm curious to what happens next. At the same time, I'm frustrated with the author for dragging things out.
Then there is the other side of the coin. Sometimes authors have too much happen too quickly. For me, unless I'm emotionally attached to the characters, I could really care less about all the crazy stuff that happens to them. It's a fine line, to be sure—and one that is going to be different for every person.
The same can be applied to movies. A lot of the blockbusters now are, to quote Shakespeare, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". For me, the "Transformer" movies are a perfect example.
I'll admit, I've not seen the third movie. Why not? Because the first two really turned me off. I'll grant the special effects were amazing, but half the time, I couldn't tell which were the good robots and which were the bad ones. Even worse, I had no emotional attachment to the characters, so I could really care less what happened to any of them.
Lastly, what inspired this blog, is a recent project I completed. I'm a huge fan of the rock group "Yes".
I think they have produced some of the most amazing music over the last 40 years. I've seen them in concert several times, and these are musicians of the highest caliber. Having said all that, even I admit that many of their songs are long for the sake of being long. (at least to me)
So, I decided to create a CD of music of my favorite parts of Yes music. I have music editing software and I've developed the talent to use it—no doubt from my TV directing days. Over the course of a week or so, I edited down some of my favorite pieces of Yes music to just the parts I thought were the most inspiring. It can be tricky taking a 20 minute song and trimming it down to 5 minutes, and still have it sound like a finished piece of music—but it can also be a lot of fun.
I'm not selling it or sharing it with anyone else because of copyright issues. I needed to say that so I don't get sued.
The lesson I take out all of this is things I apply to my writing. In general, I think I was successful with The Hidden Sun to balance pacing with character development. It's my goal, and hope, to continue that with my future books.