In praise of padding (the good kind)

12 thoughts on “In praise of padding (the good kind)”

  1. I feel enriched by this article and moved to go and ‘enrich’ my writing. Padding over plot any day. Yes, yes, I know you need the plot as well but sometimes too many other things are championed over good old ‘padding’.


    1. Hi Gail – I can report I’ve added some words today without on the face of it moving much forward, but everything you add does move it forward in some way, just not always as you might expect. Oh dear the words of a true ‘pantser’! Ali B


  2. Good padding – could another word be ‘pacing’? I think you’re so right about not worrying about ‘the next big thing’ but focussing on exploring character, the – as you say – warp and weft of interaction, the significant gesture, the unspoken thought. Getting inside the character, seeing the world from his or her point of view… that’s what it’s about… and that’s what it seems to me is ‘voice’! Get that right and the story will evolve. Great stuff, Ali. Thank you!


    1. thanks Harriet – yes pacing is part of it, and working out the what the pace is I suppose. Then there’s actually doing it – ! AliB


  3. Oh I hope your interested questioner was happy with your response! How is the novel going questions are tricky. It is – is the answer. Goldfinch is one of my recent favourites. I wouldn’t know where to cut it, what to leave out, even although it’s long and fussy. In the context of the whole book it all makes sense but that doesn’t mean every book should be long. How long? As long as it takes to tell the story.


    1. Hi Janette, I think you’re right. Each story has its own natural length So far my novels come in around 88,000 but I think my current one will be longer – although don’t know yet quite how long it will take.
      I just popped over to your blog – hearing Donna Tartt talking about The Goldfinch sounds wonderful. I didn’t realise she had been in Edinburgh (or anywhere ‘over here’). Very taken with “there’s no ‘readership’ to write for but an ideal reader – one true person who ‘gets’ what you’re trying to say”. And yes, will forgive her the scarf! Thanks for sharing. Ali B


      1. DT was inspiring. I’ve been to a few author events and she was outstanding, mostly, because, although she’s published very successfully, she’s still very unsure of the craft of putting together a story. One of the questions on the night was about ‘padding’ or taking time to get to a point, she said (summarising an hour here) ‘look at Psycho and how Hitchcock hooks you into the story with leisurely opening, building the tension piece by piece so that when the crunch or climax comes, it’s more shocking/unexpected but by then you’ve hooked the reader into the ‘game’ and they play along.’ She crafts her novels by building to mini climaxes and releasing tension both quickly and slowly and part of that artistry is building authentic characters playing within an authentic and believable storyline. 🙂


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