Simple moments matter. We don’t appreciate tension, action, horror, or whatever else without the quiet times to balance the story out.
But a danger lingers with quiet moments: pacing. Too short, and the quiet moment will come off as rushed, needless, or both. Too long, and readers will be bored. Plot doesn’t move steadily through quiet moments, so a metronome must be in place. One of the many reasons I require background music while I write is to be a metronome, timer, call it what you will. If a scene reads longer than the song that’s playing, it’s gone too long.
Certain composers fulfill the need of a metronome very well for quiet moments. Some I’ve written about already, such as Danna or Karaindrou. I would like to note Gabriel Yared again, as his compositions for piano in Cold Mountain are worth notice.
“Ada Plays” does not have the, I’ll call it “epic,” tone held by other selections of the Cold Mountain score. Only piano plays for the first minute and a half, in a waltz-like rhythm, with one constant note underlying the chords that sway up and down the keys. Piano fades to a harp and orchestra, which keep the rhythm and harmonies, only now through the different instruments the simple chords are broken into melodies that flow into each other as streams join to form a river. The music is layered, intricate, and always moving forward. The swells are muted, and the music ebbs away, leaving the harp to mark the end.
Perhaps you just need a quiet moment for your characters. They deserve one, at least. And readers cannot relate, TRULY relate, to characters who are always fighting, cowering, deducing. Give your characters a chance to simply “be.”
Click here for more on COLD MOUNTAIN.