Does Rest Have a Place in Fiction Novels?

Fiction novels take characters on a breakneck pace through trial and fire, through trouble and time-crunched plots where every second matters.

Given the fast-paced nature of most YA, adventure, and speculative fiction, one might think rest has no place in those novels, but I believe it does.

Rest plays an important role in fast-paced, adventure-filled fiction.

I love The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien which contains mini adventures rolled into the larger adventure of the quest. In every novel, characters usually go on some kind of journey internally (emotionally/mentally) and sometimes, externally (physical adventures), and in every novel, there are “rest” points where characters have time to reflect on their circumstances before moving onward in their journey.

These rest points are key moments in any fast-paced, adventure-filled fiction. The rest moments in novels give characters time to reflect on the adventures they’ve had, how they have changed, and if they are prepared (or not) for what is coming next.

The Hobbit includes some rest points for the party of adventurers, and oddly, not all of them are nice places. They rest with the elves, with Beorn, and with the Wood-elves who imprison them.

Now, wait, you might be thinking that the prison isn’t a restful place, but yet, it is. They spend time there. The dwarves heal from their spider bites. Bilbo has time to make a plan for their escape and make it happen.

Rest in a fast-paced novel doesn’t have to happen in an idyllic glade or at an elven feast, it could be in prison, or under the foreboding shadows of dark trees. The only key requirement of rest in a novel is that it be a moment during which the characters reflect on events.

Rest gives the characters time to consider their internal struggles and is often when the most important internal story arc takes place.

Bilbo takes a beat in the tunnel before he enters Smaug’s lair in the mountain. This important rest beat helps him discover the courage he needs to move forward, and this courage is based on the adventures he’s already had at that point in the novel. While you can argue that the interior monologue in The Hobbit is pretty sparse, I still think this reflection is embedded in the scene.

Since I went on vacation a few weeks ago and rediscovered how much I need rest so I can reflect on my life and find renewal, I’ve been seeing this need everywhere – in life and in fiction.

If you write breakneck, fast-paced novels, how do you build in reflection and rest for your characters, so they have the strength to go on?

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