War of Nytefall: Eulogy has a set piece that involves peace talks. Between who? I’m not going to say because that can be a little spoiler-y. Just know that there are scenes where people are arguing, debating, and discussing. For an action adventure series, this can really slow things down and cause some trouble. I had more of the peace talks scenes planned, but realized right away how they take away from the bigger plot of another Clyde running around. Still, this event had to be shown to some extent, so I needed to do so and maintain the pacing. Was it perfectly done? Doubtful. Did it work? Yeah, I’m happy with it. So, here are some tips.
- Introduce the peace talks or any form of negotiation as early as possible. You don’t want to get far into the action and then drop this more mellow event into the mix. It can derail the momentum, especially if it doesn’t connect directly to the higher octane scenes. A reader will be able to handle the jumps to the peace talks scenes better if they know from the beginning that they will be there. This is only necessary if they are to be lasting the entire story too.
- Use the peace talks scenes to denote passing of time to allow the other plotlines to move through pauses. You can move back to the talking section if you need the other characters to change location or activity. Even without clarifying how much time has passed during the peace talks scene, you give a sense that a less interesting period is being skipped in the other plots. Readers won’t be upset because it will be clear that nothing of importance was sacrificed and they’ll see how the talks are going.
- Show periods where the diplomats and others involved in the talks are resting. If this event is going to last for days then they’re going to need breaks. Groups with shared interest will be meeting and coming up with plans. Secret alliances and deals will be made before returning to the table. These scenes can help build interest in the peace talks without having the actual arguing going on.
- Occasionally show how the peace talks and other plots intersect. If it feels like this event is running entirely independently of the action plot then readers will wonder what the point is. Have events happening in one storyline influence the others by making it easier or more difficult. For example, War of Nytefall: Eulogy has it where the actions of the imposter Clyde makes the peace talks more difficult. In return, the peace talks start requiring actions that make handling the imposter more difficult. This shows they are connected.
- Try not to draw out the peace talks scenes for too long. They will involve a lot of talking and very little action. Not unless you have an assassin turn up every time, but that gets silly. Short, contentious, aggressive, and to the point can really help when the actual negotiations are going on. More passive talking can be done for those pre/post negotiations scenes I mentioned in #3.
- Do NOT use cliché movie lines when diplomats get angry. It doesn’t matter if a character can handle the truth or not anymore.
- Know when to step away from the peace talks and leave them in the background until the action plot is finished. Once you hit the final push for the action part, you cannot safely step away to show the more passive storyline. This only works to help with building things up and can be a hazard if you try it when you are at the height of tension. Don’t be afraid that readers will be upset about ignoring the peace talks while the big fight goes on. They should be too interested in the action to care about the arguing characters.