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.

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