On my facebook page, I was recently asked, in response to a comment I made about regency making me slow down and explore settings and description:
Do you find UF seems more rushed than period pieces because of the action?
My answer was as follows.
No more rushed, but definitely faster. UF focuses more on the mystery elements, the fighting, and the plot. Period pieces aren’t necessarily “slower,” but they do focus more on the characters and their interactions. It actually makes it harder to write, sometimes. In an UF, if I get stuck, I can just blow up a building and go from there, but there’s no crutch like that in regency.
Then I got to really thinking about the differences between UF and regency (my period of choice) in character development, plot progression, and most of all in pacing.
I read extensively. Mostly urban fantasy, but I love a good romance too. Thinking back on it, romances don’t read any slower for me than an action packed UF. There are big, big differences in the two genres, though each borrows elements from the other. Most UF has elements of romance in it, and many romances have a splash of mystery or action. Not always, but sometimes.
There isn’t much difference in pacing when I’m reading. The focus of the story is on different things (building the relationship in romance, solving the mystery and fixing the problem in UF) but they each have a beginning, middle, and end, and each holds my attention avidly for different reasons.
The big difference is in the writing of the two genres. At least it is for me.
I’ve been writing “seriously” for six years now. In that time, most of what I’ve written has been urban fantasy or fantasy. There’s have been a couple romances thrown in, but that’s not where my main focus has lain. I’ve become accustomed to writing stories that are carried by violence, magic, mayhem, and snarky heroines that don’t have much time to fall in love. Character is built in how they respond to any given situation. The plot moves from one emergency to another, cumulating in the final show down, the epic climatic battle that reveals the villain, solves the mystery, and leaves our heroine triumphant but beaten to a pulp.
Romance, when I’m writing it, feels slower to me because of its lack of one action scene after another. Character is instead built on how they interact within the bounds of society (especially true for regency), and how they interact with others. The story comes from finding that spark of attraction between two people and its growth into something larger, something sweeter and all encompassing, that brings them together in blissful happily ever after.
Instead of fighting monsters, there are battles of wits. Instead of racing from one emergency to the next, it’s a series of misunderstandings that must be worked through or the couple risks never coming together. Tension is built on the couple coming together and realizing the depth of their love, instead of in the rush to solve the mystery and bring the bad guy to justice.
Is UF more rushed than period pieces? I wouldn’t say rushed, no. But when I write it, it feels fast. I write it fast, too. The average time for me to draft an 80,000 word urban fantasy is roughly 2-3 weeks. That’s an average of 4,000-6,000 words a day. Ask any writer and they’ll agree. That’s a lot of word output. Most of that is in describing fights, dealing with the aftermath, and moving on to the next battle while picking up clues along the way.
So far, with WALTZ OF THE WALLFLOWER, I’ve been averaging about 2,000 words a day. Much, much slower than the progress I make when drafting an UF. There’s more thinking involved, more scenes that feel slower to me because they’re not filled with danger and action and magic, though I know when I go back and read through it the pacing will be fine.
It’s a matter of what you’re used to, and I’m much more used to the quick plot progression of urban fantasy than I am the interactions and growth of bringing two characters together.