Pacing a Chapter

Recently, I posted Pacing of a Novel. I wrote about how pacing set the tone of a novel. In this post, I write about how the pacing of a scene can bring a novel to a dead stop, something you don’t want to happen to your novel.

First let me say, I like Douglas Preston. He writes adventurous novel with a plot centered around a puzzle that needs to be solved in a limited amount of time or disaster will ensue. But some times his stories slow down a little too much. This happened in chapter 3 of The Codex, by Douglas Preston. It is long and tedious.

In The Codex, the father is missing, presumed murdered, and his fortune of paintings, jewels and archeological artifacts have been stolen.

In the third chapter, two police detectives interview the three sons.

In real life, detectives will interview family members to get as much information as possible so they can solve the case, but copying real life exactly does not always make for interesting story.

As the detectives are interviewing the sons about their father, we learn who the father is. We learn about his physical appearance, his heath, how he handled his heath problems, his personality, household employees, his wealth, and how he acquired his wealth. The chapter went on and on and on.

It was pages of dialogue between five men. The only action was the detective, whose point of view we were following. The detective looked at that one or that one, or he gave a look of warning to his partner, which his partner seemed not to notice.

All the above information was important. It explained the father’s character and motive, but not all of that information was need in one huge chunk. It should have been spread out over several chapters.

We already knew about the father’s fortune in the first two chapters, but Preston went over that information again in the third chapter. He could have left it out.

Preston could have saved the father’s description for when we first see him on film. It would have been a good contrast for when we meet him in person later at the book.

The main mystery is finding the father. He takes his fortune and hides it somewhere in the world. If his sons want their inheritance, they must find him and his wealth, several millions dollars. The father gives no clues as to where is has gone.

In the third chapter, Preston gives a full explanation as to the father’s motive. Taking away all mystery of why. I think it would have been more interesting not to know. Then make the secondary mystery be why the father is such a jerk.

As we get to know the sons, we learn of their relationship with their father. This would have been a better place to unfold the father’s motive and see why the sons are so anger.

Personally, I think a good amount of the information given in the third chapter could have been spread throughout the novel. It’s not good to give all information away all at once. Allowing the reader to wonder, “What he heck is going on,” makes for suspense and mystery. Slowly unraveling the truth keeps reader reading.