Giving Characters Room To Breathe

It’s a commonly held belief that attention spans are getting shorter so books have to be more intense and loaded with action. Generally this isn't a bad trend in books. You certainly don't have very many pointless chapters or boring sections of books as you find in some of the older ones. But I feel this comes with a tradeoff.

Today I'll use the example of the second book of The Maze Runner trilogy as my example: The Scorch Trials. It’s a great book and very intense but I feel a lot of the emotional content gets stifled by the quick action. There’s never time for the characters, let alone the readers, to process the full emotions of everything that happens.

I don’t want to spoil too much but there should be more feelings of loss and betrayal at certain points but it feels like the main emotion is that of pragmatic survival. Maybe that’s what the sort of emotion the characters had to focus on to get through it all but it just feels like there could have been a wider range of emotions if there had been a bit more time for both the characters and readers to feel rather than act.

Anyway, even with this flaw, The Scorch Trials is a great book, but I'd recommend starting off with the first book in the series: The Maze Runner. I feel the first book had a better balance of character moments and action and provides the foundation you need to relate well to the characters in the second book.

So to bring it all back together: sometimes the plot might demand characters keep moving, but if you give them a little room to breathe and feel, I’m sure they'll seem a lot more human to your readers.