I've read a lot of hints and tricks to writing over the years. Above all I feel that several elements of story done well can carry a story. I'm feeling that way about 'Name of the Wind' right now. He has a good world, is an excellent story teller and knows how to weave an entertaining series of events. Somehow his story at times lacks what I feel is the right atmosphere, but it doesn't matter, really. The story is firm and engaging. I'm having trouble putting it down.
The more I write the more I realize that the details are things you learn and the guts, the main things you're writing you have to win. I used to write to my '2 of 4' rule: have at least 2 of the following 4 things in each chapter; action, a question, an answer or information. I've discovered now that this doesn't really work as it doesn't inheritally promote flow and pacing. With any entertainment media, I've begun to think of pacing as king (I've likely mentioned this before). Pacing requires a continuity of events and relationships between characters. To this end I've adopted the simpler model of Reaction and Action. If all events (actions, dialogue etc etc) are either actions or reactions, then by default you're bound to create chains. Chains have flow. So long as every action produces a reaction and the chains are designed to grow, a certain pacing is established that can be maintained relatively easily as long you don't have errant links.
Anyway, I thought I'd post this to keep something up here. It's a good trick for anyone having trouble piecing plot together.
On another note; Avengers. I'd just like to say that all special effects and big names aside, pretty well made movie. An interview with Joss gave an interesting insight; he wanted to have each character have equal time in the spotlight, something I think they did really well considering that all Avengers aren't created equal. Thor, Cap, Hulk and Iron man are kind of on their own level leaving Hawk Eye and Black widow behind. During the movie it felt that each Avenger had their uses, even if their strengths weren't on par. Except at the end. I really don't see how Black Widow and Hawk eye survived that last battle, even with their more extraordinary friends to bail them out. At any rate, that's nict picking. When the SHIELD aircraft carrier lifted off for the first time, I got goose bunps.
John, the Writer.