Tuesday, 9 March 2010

58 - Where am I?

The pace has slowed a bit on my current redraft. I'm drawing closer to the big climax which is, as it almost always is, the most fun to write. It's difficult, but fun. Everything comes to a head and it's addictive, shaping the way your characters' journey come to an end.

But in many ways it's the part just before the climax that is most important; the quiet before the storm. These lulls in the action before that final act have to be pitched just right. They have to slow the action down enough to let you get a breather and let you take in everything that the characters have achieved so far and what they're soon sure to achieve. They also provide a well-needed break and stop the action rolling forward in an unmanageable, indistinguishable rush. But too slow and you lose all sense of rhythm you've built up and end up boring your audience. Either way, you don't want the scene to feel like it's been awkwardly crowbarred in there to provide variety.

I'm struggling tremendously with this at the moment and though I'm still erring too much on the side of deadly slow and boring, I'm sure (as I keep reassuring myself) that I'll fix it in a later draft. Rather than turning to books or movies for inspiration, I've found the best examples of these 'quiets before storms' in videogames.

One such is in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater when just before the climax, you climb slowly up a ladder (it takes about 3 minutes) as a beautifully haunting vocal rendition of the theme song plays. It's a staggeringly simple and mind-blowing way of slowing the pace.

Even better is in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. You've just charged through a warzone, fought your way on to a train, fought your way along the speeding train, crashed the train, climbed up the train's wreckage hanging precariously off a cliff and battled a hit squad before finally collapsing. When you awake, you find yourself in a Tibetan village. You can't run, jump or climb. All you can do is slowly walk towards the end of the village taking in the amazing scenery and the almost tangible sense of sun on your skin. It's not only a perfect way of slowing the pace before the huge final act of the game, but it's easily the best moment in the entire game. And that's how you set up a ending.

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