Let’s dive right into the eye of the storm.
Believe it or not, when you read a novel, you’re reading not one but two stories, or even more if the book has many subplots. They run concurrently, and add to form a whole.
In every book, there is an ‘A’ story. The primary storyline. This is usually the external events; the action. This happens, and then that happens. But, to add dimension to the ‘A’ story, there is also a ‘B’ story. The ‘B’ story is often relationship orientated (or at least it is in most books). The ‘B’ story helps to define motivations, reactions, and decisions. And because the ‘B’ story is largely relationship focussed, with character growth at the forefront, chapters spent developing them tend to slow down a fast-paced action plot and give the reader necessary pauses to catch their breath. These chapters are in the eye of the storm. Ashley and I long ago gave these types of chapters names. We call them ‘calming chapters’, and yep, you guessed it. That’s the kind of chapter I’m working on right now.
We used to hate calming chapters with a vengeance, and to be honest I still find them challenging, as often there isn’t a specific ‘event’ to shape the chapter around. And although our characters have enough conflict in their relationships to drive the story forward, it seems to me I have short bursts of writing before I run out of steam and have to stop and think a little more about what I’m trying to achieve. The flow of the chapter is also affected by which character’s view I’m writing; some of them tend to be more introspective than others.
So, do I have advice for writing ‘in the eye of the storm?’ Let the characters guide them. Each character has their own unique set of motivations, and their own personality. Even if they’re not being particularly loquacious, if you’ve created enough conflict in their life then they’ll definitely have some stuff to work through in their minds. And if you’re looking for a good place to start building a relationship between two characters, put them in the same scene and see what happens. One will typically drive the interaction, no matter what kind of relationship, and no matter what state the relationship is in. Let the more extroverted character push the introvert’s buttons to start the conversations flowing. And if neither of them appear to want to talk, delve deeper. Why? Build the tension, and keep pushing, keep prodding, until you get results.