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Pacing. How important is it to the development of the characters and the plot? What are your thoughts about how Smiley used the element of pace in this novel?

Created: 10/16/14

Replies: 11

Posted Oct. 16, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
CheriFaith

Join Date: 10/06/14

Posts: 37

Pacing. How important is it to the development of the characters and the plot? What are your thoughts about how Smiley used the element of pace in this novel?

The element of pacing is my number one sticking point in the structural analysis of any written work. Smiley's use if it was not always evident to me. I get the framework concept of a chapter representing a year and the focus of each chapter tending to be on one character or event; but, the way she stretched it and to me, sometimes plodded through the sub-plots or emotional arcs, made time feel like I was pulling a horse through a river of peanut butter as I read on.

Please don't misunderstand - she writes beautifully. I truly believe that, But, in my opinion, in this particular book, I don't feel a sense of inner-rhythm, flow or movement. It just plods on. And that colors my total impression in the shade of sad - it's cloudy all over, even on a bright, sunny day. I am not saying that anything is wrong with this choice; but it's not the choice that appears to be apparent to me.

What do you think, fellow readers?


Posted Oct. 16, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
harriettek

Join Date: 10/19/10

Posts: 34

RE: Pacing. How important is it to the development of the characters and the plot? What are your thoughts about how Smiley used the element of pace in this novel?

Although I recognize Jane Smiley's goal in telling one third of her planned trilogy of 100 years in the life of a family, I found the movement back and forth a little difficult to keep track. I had to go back and forth at times to remind myself of the characters and their places. I did appreciate her taking the time to describe farm life, and I found that the most interesting part of the story. The characters each had a role to play and that is pretty much a stock device.


Posted Oct. 16, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
harriettek

Join Date: 10/19/10

Posts: 34

RE: Pacing. How important is it to the development of the characters and the plot? What are your thoughts about how Smiley used the element of pace in this novel?

Although I recognize Jane Smiley's goal in telling one third of her planned trilogy of 100 years in the life of a family, I found the movement back and forth a little difficult to keep track. I had to go back and forth at times to remind myself of the characters and their places. I did appreciate her taking the time to describe farm life, and I found that the most interesting part of the story. The characters each had a role to play and that is pretty much a stock device.


Posted Oct. 16, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
CheriFaith

Join Date: 10/06/14

Posts: 37

RE: Pacing. How important is it to the development of the characters and the plot? What are your thoughts about how Smiley used the element of pace in this novel?

Harriettek, I agree with you about it being hard to keep everyone straight as far as where they fit into the family. And your observation about each character having a role to fulfill is spot-on!


Posted Oct. 19, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rosemaryk

Join Date: 08/29/11

Posts: 36

RE: Pacing. How important is it to the development of the characters and the plot? What are your thoughts about how Smiley used the element of pace in this novel?

I think Smiley did a wonderful job laying out her complex plot year by year. It meant that she wasn't really covering everything in extreme detail, but we did get the essence. History-wise, it really worked well.

In addition, one could keep track of how the children were aging, were, later on, becoming adults. With the parents growing older as well.

I was interested in this story all the way through. There were no down spells for me.


Posted Oct. 20, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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dianed

Join Date: 09/14/11

Posts: 14

RE: Pacing. How important is it to the development of the characters and the plot? What are your thoughts about how Smiley used the element of pace in this novel?

I can understand the one year-one chapter pacing, but the book was very dragged out for me. The history was done well, and people will learn a lot about what was happening during those years, but I do not see myself bothering to read the next two books.


Posted Oct. 21, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
hazeyr

Join Date: 03/24/12

Posts: 19

RE: Pacing. How important is it to the development of the characters and the plot? What are your thoughts about how Smiley used the element of pace in this novel?

There are a lot of characters to follow in this book,and the short chapters that cover one year makes it a little easier for me to keep track of the cast. I enjoy seeing the characters develop over time. For example, we get the essence of the development of personality as we watch Walter develop from a baby to an adolescent.


Posted Oct. 22, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
celiaarnaud

Join Date: 04/18/12

Posts: 35

RE: Pacing. How important is it to the development of the characters and the plot? What are your thoughts about how Smiley used the element of pace in this novel?

Oh, yes. I found myself going to the family tree multiple times to try to keep everyone straight. I found that the plot lines related to Frank were the fastest paced and seemed to work the best. In fact, I found him to be the driving force behind the story.


Posted Oct. 23, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
alisonf

Join Date: 01/31/13

Posts: 90

Expert

RE: Pacing. How important is it to the development of the characters and the plot? What are your thoughts about how Smiley used the element of pace in this novel?

The structure sometimes seemed to hold the pace back but I think it enabled the reader to get to know the cast through the years even if they weren't the focus of the chapter.


Posted Nov. 10, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
susank

Join Date: 06/28/11

Posts: 13

RE: Pacing. How important is it to the development of the characters and the plot? What are your thoughts about how Smiley used the element of pace in this novel?

I like the way the novel is paced - year by year, but I must agree with another reviewer (CheriFaith) that the book just seemed to plod along. The events in the lives of the characters, year by year, seemed almost like reportage, just something she had to get through before she could get to the next year. I never got the feeling that I was ever knowing any of the characters any better - the events in their lives seemed more like postcards.


Posted Nov. 10, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
CheriFaith

Join Date: 10/06/14

Posts: 37

RE: Pacing. How important is it to the development of the characters and the plot? What are your thoughts about how Smiley used the element of pace in this novel?

I know what you mean about feeling like you never got to know the characters - there was such a distant feeling just hanging in the air all the time. And, yes, plod is a good word to describe the movement. Smiley's a good writer - her vocabulary is good and her structure is sound but this book has a flat affect in my opinion.


Posted Nov. 12, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
andreab

Join Date: 07/29/14

Posts: 76

Expert

RE: Pacing. How important is it to the development of the characters and the plot? What are your thoughts about how Smiley used the element of pace in this novel?

I liked the one chapter one year concept but the "depth" of each chapter made following the characters difficult. Some characters would not show up for a few chapters/years and I would have to go back to remind myself of who they were.


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