My characters are crossing the galaxy and it’s the let’s go for fifteen hours before we stop for gas, food, and bathroom kind of trip, repeated over again and again and again.
So, what the heck are they doing all this time, and how do I keep my readers enthralled?
This is a tough one. Until now, every chapter has been fast paced, full of action, emotion, and menace. Suddenly, seven people are cooped up in a tiny ship the size of a Greyhound bus (yes, they still have Greyhound buses), travelling X 2 infinity miles an hour (I love space opera — relativity be damned!). Things are going to slow down, whether I like it or not.
First, I fill the canvas with a delicate background tone. The viewer doesn’t see this color when the painting is finished (unless the artist wants her to) but, without this background, the painting will be flat. It’s the same for a slower paced chapter. The background color is the world these characters inhabit, the food they eat, the segments of their days, the blackness of space filling the observation ports, the paint peeling off the bulkheads — you get the idea.
Next, I paint my scene, using broad stokes, bold colors, white space, dark space. The viewer’s eye travels the canvas to the point of interest. And, in my chapters, the point of interest is the lives of these characters. They share broad strokes of memory with each other, tales of bold actions, admissions of the white space of triumph and confessions of the dark spaces of despair.
So, in other words, they talk to each other. This talk has to hold the reader, keep him wondering and hoping for a good outcome for the heros. And fearing their unknown fate.