Action and Page-time question

by Peter Hill

Question: My novel consists of many characters, how can I make it so that everyone has a good amount of page-time? Also my novel has a lot of action sequences, is there a suggested number of pages that a action scene should happen for before moving on?

Answer: I think you may be worrying about non-issues.

First, there is no reason why every character should have an equal amount of page time. Generally, it is better if your main character takes the lion's share. Readers like to feel close to one character through whose eyes they experience the story. While you can certainly tell a story from multiple viewpoints, the more viewpoints you have the weaker the connection between reader and main character. Too many POV characters makes a novel feel more like it's being told by an omniscient narrator.

(Not that you can't use omniscient narration, but it's less fashionable today because it is an objective rather than subjective telling of a story.)

Many of the most popular stories are told exclusively from one point of view, with other characters drifting in and out of the main character's perception.

Of course, your secondary characters can have their own story arcs and unfolding relationships among themselves and with the main character. Different characters may contribute more or less to the overall plot or the thematic message. You have to trust your own instincts about what events are essential to the story and let that determine how much presence different characters have.

Similarly, when writing action sequences, you have to trust your instincts regarding length. There are no fixed rules about word counts.

That said: after a certain point, non-stop action can tire the reader and a little change of pace can be refreshing. For example, an event that is primarily an action can be followed by an event that constitutes a a decision, discovery, or revelation. A section that is about deliberation can be followed by more action. Your own emotions can be your guide as you read over your work. Notice if you start to feel exhausted or bored. Those can be signs that a change of pace would be appreciated.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Character Invite.

 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook

NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles

"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards

"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero