Motion In Stories

The metaphor of movement is a common way people like to think about stories. Sometimes a reader might feel the story is stuck or slow and other times the plot is compared to a thrill ride like a roller coaster. So what exactly can a writer do to give a better sense of motion?

Let’s start with some examples of bad motion. If a story feels stuck it’s often because nothing of importance is happening to the characters. A reader’s connection to the characters is very important here. If many things are happening but the connection to the characters isn't strong enough to feel it as the characters do, then everything is going to feel less important.

Frustration, not knowing what to do, or not knowing where to go can be good parts of stories, but they have to be made to feel interesting, like we as readers are just a step or two away from the answers, much like the characters are themselves. This could be compared to the tension someone might feel on the slow first hill of a roller coaster.

A good pace of plot in a story is much like a long race. You start off with a bang and zoom off, but eventually you settle into a sort of rhythm of running into new problems and new character developments then taking little pit stops to feel the effects of these things.

Much like going too fast can wear you down, a plot can also do the same if it doesn't pause to put enough weight on especially important events or decisions. Even if the events are so crazy that the characters don't have time to pause, I’m sure they'll still be thinking over some of the most important events of their lives even during all the commotion.

Good writers will want their reader to feel as if they've moved through something when reading their books. Great writing will lead us smoothly forward whether it’s through the slow times of frustration and confusion or the fast times of battles and catastrophes.

And at the end, you'll want the reader to put the book down and say one thing: “What a ride!”