Mysteries of Pacing
Pacing and the HEA
Mysteries of Pacing series is indexed here:
Anyone who has had sex, (good, bad or indifferent) understands pacing. Pacing is the difference between good, bad and indifferent - and mind-glowingly awesome.
It is all about "the next thing" being revealed (mysteriously is best) at just the right point.
The problem with most couples is that one is ready when the other is not.
This is exactly the problem between writer and reader.
Sex is a "story," a sequence of RE-actions to stimuli, which form the "plot." Each contact is a plot-point, and in optimized sequence, the points line up to create a momentum of re-actions, leading to a climax.
The climax of a novel is called a climax for a reason.
The culmination of good or indifferent sex is called a climax for the same reason. (bad sex usually means no climax for at least one participant).
Both good fiction and good sex are all about energy transfer, or energy transformation, possibly by "induction."
So great mind-blowing body-ripping sex climaxes in a sequenced, and orchestrated (actually structured) way, just the way a good novel has to lead TO a moment where climax happens.
The HEA is what happens after the climax.
Climax is the erupting and dissipation of a pure energy.
In Relationships, that "energy" is the momentum that keeps "life" moving. We build a life, we have a work-life, and a home-life, and a social-life, maybe a sports-life, a hobby-life, we build these lives from the teen years onwards.
We pour energy into each of these structured lives we possess, and each of our lives has a "vector" (a direction and a magnitude) which when blended with all the other components, produces our "life" as the result.
Change any component, and life changes (sometimes a little, sometimes a lot).
A Climax is the point where the energy driving life in one direction suddenly reduces in magnitude, allowing the DIRECTION to change.
Life has momentum. Humans have emotional inertia. We don't so much resist change as simply ride our life-vector.
Life's momentum has a magnitude. Every single little thing you do as a teen, or college student, or twenty-something, is additive -- it gets your life moving, and once life is moving fast, you don't have much choice of direction.
This is why the classic story of an addict's life usually includes hitting bottom. There is a turning point where the person's life "hits" an obstacle and all no longer has direction or movement. When everything stops, the person has a choice of direction. While moving down into the abyss, there is no choice of direction because many small choices have built momentum to a magnitude that can't be overcome.
Likewise in sex, the "don't stop now" point is so crucial in generating Relationship Building pillow talk after climax, a good night's sleep, and productive planning over breakfast.
Pacing a novel is all about direction and magnitude. The direction the reader is looking for is progress toward the Climax (the new choices point). The magnitude the reader is looking for is the clue to how intense, how satisfying, the Climax will be when that point is "hit." How HARD will the characters be hit when they reach that final moment?
How hard the characters are hit is proportionate to how big a change they have to make in their life-direction, their life-vector.
If you're telling the story of addiction, Book One ends with the climax of hitting rock bottom, of realization, of knowing, and of being able to choose a new direction.
Whether the reader sees that this Character will succeed where most addicts fail depends on the writer's showing not telling the Character's character, the strength that can be summoned. Often that depends on the Character's ability to visualize the ultimate goal.
The sequels in that series would then detail the step-wise climb in a new direction, the moments of temptation, the mistakes and backsliding and how that's handled, and ultimately achieving the goal. Each of these points would come to a Climax where the Character must choose a slightly new direction, course correction on the way to triumph.
Like sex, life is all about energy.
Humans may find we have that in common with other, non-human, people we meet out among the stars. It may be all we do have in common, and it might be enough to establish Relationships.
Here are some graphic illustrations of the structural lessons of literary climax applicable to stage, screen, and page.
Each genre has one or two favorites (which shift with generational fashion). Your favorite will change with decades and decades of aging.
Action-Adventure Science Fiction favors this one.
You'll find many Romances structured this way:
The wriggly line on the upsweep represent the ever-increasingly-intense sex scenes (graphic does not mean intense).
Both the Plot and the Story have diagrams like this. The diagrams use up and down to symbolize potential energy increase and decrease -- sex is like climbing a mountain then leaping off to soar through space.
Seeing the similarities among different energy patterns is what artists do.
Showing that similarity to people who can't see it is what writers do.
Leave your reader with a wiser understanding of how energy patterns interact, plot and story, and how certain patterns of interacting patterns are in fact the HEA.
The HEA is not a condition of zero energy, not "hitting rock bottom" or "crashing into the glass ceiling" of energy processes.
Happiness might be defined as collimated energy, harmonious energy transmission rather than turbulent and thus wasteful energy transmission. Timing, pacing, is crucial to that harmony.
The moments just after climax, the deep sigh, the loosening of tension, the relaxing into sleep, are "falling action." Master rising and falling action by reading carefully and noting how famous novels use this technique.
Do this Google Search -- define climax in plot -- for more graphic illustrations and websites to explore them all. Particularly note the diagrams by https://learn.lexiconic.net/elementsoffiction.htm
Take your favorite novels and graph them onto these patterns, to see which pattern you love the most, which you think in the most, and which your real life follows the closest. Try writing in those patterns.
Just as there is no one right way to have sex, there is no one "right" way to structure a plot's climaxes. The current best seller or blockbuster film becomes defined as "right" because it makes the most money for the publisher/producer (many times not for the writer).
Learn the common origins of all these graphs and why they apply, why they are useful. Finding, or inventing, the best fit for the POINT your novel makes is the goal. Getting the thematic match between the climax pacing of your story and the climax pacing of your plot is an art to be mastered.