「犬の散歩」をしない方法:SCPフォーマットにおけるテンポの悪さについて
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あなたは犬の散歩をしたことがあるだろうか?犬の散歩には、ある種のコツがある。ペットと飼い主の両方が歩調を合わせなければならない。もし犬がスピードを落としたら、飼い主は犬がリードで首を絞められないようにスピードを落とした方が良いし、犬がスピードを上げたら、飼い主は5速でリスを追いかける準備をしておいた方が良い。犬にとっても飼い主にとっても良い散歩をするためには、最終的には飼い主が犬のペースを予測し、それに応じた対応ができるようにしなければならない。

Have you ever walked a dog? There's a certain art to it that's hard to appreciate. Both the pet and the owner have to be in step. If the dog slows down, the owner better slow down if they don't want the dog to choke their on the leash, and if the dog speeds up, then the owner better be ready to chase a squirrel at mach 5. In order for a walk to be good for both the dog and the owner, ultimately the owner has to be able to predict the dog's pace and respond accordingly.

さて、犬の散歩とSCPの執筆に何の関係があるのだろうか?外に出ることになるので、速攻でいくつか危険信号が上がることとなる。言うまでもないが、これは例え話だ。作者は犬であり、読者は飼い主である。作者は物語のペースをコントロールするが、そのペースがどこに向かっているのかを読者が理解してくれることを願っている。

Now, what does walking a dog have to do with writing for this site? It involves going outside so we're immediately raising some red flags here. This is obviously an analogy. The author is the dog, and the reader is the owner. The author controls the pace of the story, but they better hope that the reader understands where that pacing is going.

散歩のペースが悪いと(犬が散歩道から外れて迷子になってしまう、散歩道自体が長すぎるなど)、飼い主を退屈させてしまう。飼い主には、散歩をするたびににまた次の散歩がしたくなるようにしてもらいたいものだ。そして、同じように、あなたは自分の物語が長く、目的もなく漫然とした感じになって欲しくはないだろう。その代わりに、あなたは自分の物語を、目的や読みがいがある感じにするべきだ。

If a walk is poorly paced (the dog spends time wandering off the path, the path itself is too long, etc), you'll run the chance of boring the owner. You want each walk to make the owner yearn for another. And in the same spirit you don't want your stories to feel long and rambling without purpose, but instead they should feel purposeful and rewarding.

このエッセイでは、一般的な創作全体のペース配分について語るつもりはない。それはまた別の機会に。代わりに、今回は特にSCPのフォーマットに関連したペース配分に焦点を当ててみようと思う。このフォーマットには、他の形式の創作にはあまり縁のない、このフォーマット特有の落とし穴というものが存在するからだ。

In this essay I'm not going to tackle pacing with regard to fiction in general. That is a topic for another time. Instead, I'm going to focus on pacing specifically with regard to the SCP format, as there are certain pitfalls that are inherent to this format that don't creep up as much in other forms of fiction.

ペース配分って何?

記事中でのペース配分をどのようにするかについてのめり込みすぎる前に、私たちが同じページについて話せるように定義を統一しておくのが良いだろう。ペース配分とは何かという定義はたくさんあるが、それぞれが少しずつ違っていて、おそらくは人によっても違うだろう(多くの文学用語のように)。しかし、このエッセイの目的のために、ここではペース配分のことをこう定義しようと思う:

ペース配分とは物語が展開するスピードのことである。

Before I go too far into how to look at pacing within an article, its good to have a common definition so we're all on the same page. There's many definitions of exactly what pacing is, each one is going to be a little bit different and will probably vary from person to person (like many literary terms). However, for the purpose of this essay I'm going to define pacing thusly:

Pacing is the speed with which a story unfolds.

さて、この定義についていくつかのことを明確にしておこう。「スピード」というのは、読者に対し物語が展開する速度のことだ。私は1週間の出来事を一文にまとめることもできるし、1ページの中で1分の出来事を説明することもできる。重要なのは、財団世界においての展開の速さではなく、読者が物語を読み進める際の展開の速さである、ということだ。

Now, let me clarify a few things about this definition: when I am talking about speed, I'm talking about how fast the story unfolds for the reader. I can summarize the events of an entire week in a sentence, or I could describe a single minute of action over the course of a page. What matters is how long it takes the reader to get through the story, not how quickly it unfolds in-universe.

良いペース配分とは、一般的に、小説の各構成要素に対し適切な時間をかけることだ。かける時間があまりにも少ないと読者は途方に暮れてしまうが、あまりにも多いと読者は退屈する。読者があなたの記事において次に何が起こるかを見たいと感じているのなら、それは一般的に良いペース配分ができている証だ。飼い主は、その散歩を終わらせたいと思うことだろう。

Good pacing is generally the skill of spending the right amount of time on any given component of a piece of fiction. Spend too little time and the reader will begin to feel lost, but spend too much time and the reader will get bored. As long as the reader feels compelled to see what happens next in your article, then that is generally a sign of good pacing. The owner should want to finish that walk.

エスカレーション

SCPの個々の構成要素に入る前に、まず最初に、SCPのすべての部分に当てはまるペース配分の重要な側面に触れておこうと思う。個々の構成要素に対し可能な限りきっちりした内容になるように注目する際にも、この側面に触れておくことは重要だ。あなたの記事の各部分が読者を先に進めるようにしたいのである。一般的なフィクションには、これを行うための多くのメカニズムがある(サスペンスを構築する、クリフハンガー1を使用する)が、特にSCPでよく利用されるメカニズムの1つは、エスカレーションである。

Before we get into the individual components of an SCP, I want to first address important aspect of pacing that is applicable to every part of an SCP. Even when you're scoped out the content to be as tight as possible, the presentation of that content matters. You want to make sure that each part of your article drives the reader onward. There are a number of mechanisms for doing this in general fiction (building suspense, using cliffhangers), but one mechanism that is exploited often in SCPs especially is escalation.

エスカレーションとは、前もって設定された境界線を押し広げることである。エスカレーションは、記事全体、補遺、または単一の段落の間にも起こることがある。また、ユーモア、ホラー、悲劇など、さまざまな属性でエスカレーションすることもできる。次の「部分」が前の「部分」よりも「より多く」のことをしていれば、エスカレートしていることになる。

Escalation is really the act of pushing the boundaries set previously. Escalation can happen over the course of an entire article, an addendum, or a single paragraph. You can also escalate with a number of different attributes: humor, horror, tragedy. As long as the next "part" does "more" than the previous "part" then you're escalating.

これを犬の散歩の例えに戻すと、道に一定の傾斜がついているようなものである。一定の上り坂があれば、飼い主に到達すべきゴールを与えることになる。一定の下り坂があれば、重力に任せる喜びが生まれる。いずれにせよ、これらは飼い主に対し進み続ける理由を与えてくれる。

Bringing this back to our dog walking metaphor, its like making sure that each leg of your path has a constant slope. If there is a constant upward slope for one leg, it gives the owner a goal to reach. If there's a constant downward slope then there's the joy of letting gravity take charge. Either way, it gives the owner a reason to keep going.

さて、まだかなり抽象的だが、演習をすれば少しは理解できると思う。自分の下書きを出して、説明文を見てほしい。それから、その説明文を段落か文か、とにかくあなたの表そうとしている異なるアイデアをしっかりと分割できる最も良いサイズにまで分割して欲しい。最後に、これらの項目を、最も面白くないと思うものから最も面白いと思うものへと順番に並べていく。

Now, that's still fairly abstract, but I think it will make a little more sense with an exercise. Take a draft of yours, and look at the description. Divide that description up into either paragraphs or sentences; whatever level of granularity you think best segments the different ideas you are presenting. Finally, order those segments in order of how interesting you think they are, from least interesting to most interesting.

説明文の並び順が同じにならなかったとすると、現在の説明文の読み方と、新しく作成した並べ替えられた説明文を比較することができるはずだ。 新しい説明文には、何かに向かって進んでいるような、何かが組み上がっていくような感じがある可能性が高い。このような何かに向かって進んでいるような感覚は、読者に読みがいを感じさせるので、一般的に読者が読み続ける手助けをする。

Assuming you didn't end up with the same order you have in your description, you should be able to compare the way your description currently reads, to the newly sorted description you've just created. There's a good chance that the new description will have a sense of build, like it's progressing toward something in particular. This feeling generally encourages a reader to continue reading, since the sense of progression feels rewarding.

これがエスカレーションの力である。これは、説明、特別収容プロトコル、あるいはSCP全体であっても、記事のほぼすべての部分に適用できるものである。

This is the power of escalation. It's something that can be applied to almost any part of an article, be it the description, containment procedures, or even the SCP as a whole.

特別収容プロトコル

それでは、SCPフォーマットに話を移そう。どこから始めればいいかというと、収容プロトコルからである。

Let's jump right into the SCP format now, shall we? And where better to start than at the beginning: with the containment procedures.

収容プロトコルのペース配分は、記事の残りの部分のフックになるという財団世界の外における役割と、どのようにして異常を封じ込めるかという財団世界の中での目的の両方を果たさなければならないので、妙に扱いにくい案件だ。ここでの問題は、「強力なフックには何が必要か」と「異常を封じ込めるためには何が必要か」の分岐点にある。

Pacing in containment procedures is strangely tricky business, since they have to serve both the out-of-universe role of being a hook for the rest of the article, as well as an in-universe purpose of detailing how exactly the anomaly is contained. The issue here comes at the crossroads between "what is necessary for a strong hook" and "what is necessary to contain the anomaly".

これは新人にとっては思わぬ落とし穴となる。それは、収容プロトコルをあまりに詳しく書いてしまうことだ。内宇宙のためには記述しないといけない詳細は数多くあるが、そのどれも読者を退屈させてしまうだろう。これにより、「多分多くの例外があるであろうKirbyの法則TM」の一つ目が導かれる。

This brings us to a common pitfall, especially for newer authors: writing overly-detailed containment procedures. There are a number of details that normally need to be worked out in-universe, but would bore any reader. This brings us to our first Kirby Rule That Probably Has Many ExceptionsTM:

Kirbyの第一法則: 収容プロトコルの各部分を陰謀やサスペンスを生み出すために書こう。収容プロトコルの中の文章が、読者の心の中にある種の疑問を提起しない場合、それはおそらくカットされるべきである。

Kirby Rule 1: You want to make sure that each part of your containment procedures directly creates intrigue or suspense. If a sentence in a set of containment procedures doesn't raise some sort of question in the mind of the reader, it should probably be cut.

説明

The description is another one of those meat-and-potatoes aspects of an article. It's also similar to the containment procedures, in that the description serves an out of universe purpose that somewhat conflicts with its in-universe purpose. Because of this, descriptions can run into the same problem of being unnecessarily detailed.

However, we can't use the same rules for descriptions as we do for containment procedures, largely because their purposes out-of-universe differ. Where containment procedures generally work as hooks in an article to make the reader interested and want to read on, the description is largely used to set up the premise for the rest of the article.2 This means that each part of the description shouldn't necessarily raise questions, as it should work to answer questions as well.

How do we reconcile this difference? Well, we need to ensure that the reader has enough information so the rest of the article makes sense, but we also need to make sure the reader doesn't get bored with unnecessary details. Luckily for us, we have our next Kirby Rule That Probably Has Many ExceptionsTM:

Kirby Rule 2:To ensure that the description of an article is tight, each section of the description should fall into one of three categories:

  • Mechanics: These paragraphs describe something about the way the anomaly works. Since explanations like this tend to be more on the boring side, make sure that you only describe mechanics that are required for the story to make sense. If the reader doesn't need to understand a mechanic, you shouldn't include it.
  • Imagery: Imagery in the description should only really be included if there isn't a picture to do the work for you. If you have a picture, you generally don't need to go into great depth describing what the anomaly looks like. However, if you do not have a picture, and there are interesting visuals you can describe, it is in your best interest to paint a vivid image. Besides, providing extensive imagery is one of the few aspects of the description that makes sense both in-universe, and out-of-universe.
  • Plot Point: Sometimes there is necessary plot information that must be included in the description. Whether or not you choose to include a plot point in the description should be dependent on how necessary that information is to understand the article overall, much like with mechanics.

One thing to note is that, often times the description does not need to be all-encompassing. You can purposefully leave information out of the description so you can explore it in a more engaging manner in addenda later on. One of the key rules we will talk about regarding addenda is that they should not repeat information from the description, but this could also be solved by simply trimming down the description.

++ Addenda

Now we start getting into a part that is going to vary greatly between different articles. Addendum are so varied in nature that I can't make pacing suggestions that will cover every possibility. While things like escalation can generally be applied to any given addendum format, there are nuances to any format that will allow for its own unique pacing mechanisms. What I'm going to do instead, is just talk about a few common types of addenda, and speak to things to watch out for when pacing those specific types.

+++ Experiment Logs

Experiment logs are a fairly common thing to find in an SCP article. Usually a number of them are serially presented to expand on the description. However, before I talk about how to pace an experiment log, I want to first address the circumstances when you even should include one. The following Kirby Rule That Probably Has Many ExceptionsTM should help you determine if your experiment log is even necessary in the first place:

Kirby Rule 3: Experiment log entries should probably fit the following three rules:

  • They do not reiterate information presented in the description
  • They contribute something new to the reader's understanding of the anomaly
  • They either escalate from the previous entry, or explore a different aspect of the anomaly entirely. (See Escalation above)

Usually experiment logs are put to best use on simple article that include relative simple anomalies, that can be interpreted in increasingly complex and surprising ways.3 They can also be utilized in more complex entries, however usually they are a supplement instead of becoming the core of the article.

If you follow these rules your experiment log will keep the reader's interest throughout the log. If you can't think of any entries in an experiment log that satisfy these rules, then there's a reasonable chance that you don't need one.

+++ Interviews

Interviews are another topic that could probably use its own essay. There's so much that you can do with just the power of dialogue. But we're not here to talk about that. We're here to talk about keeping an interview clean and tight.

One of the interesting differences between interviews and almost every other part of an SCP article is that this is one of the few places where you really build characters. This changes a lot of the core ideas we have built up previously, because that means that there could be parts of an interview that don't contribute at all to the plot, or the reader's understanding of the anomaly, yet are perfectly justified because they help with characterization.

In some sense, characterization in an interview is a lot like imagery in the description. It may not directly pertain to the core of the narrative or an important part of the anomaly, it still has its place in the article. The only difference is that, instead of painting a visual, characterization paints a person.

However, this doesn't mean that you can have characters in an interview give long, winding answers just because it might give us insight into their personality. There's still a balance to be struck between a character telling a shaggy-dog story, and dropping a few extra details to round of the character.

So, let's talk about how to write a tight interview with yet another Kirby Rule That Probably Has Many ExceptionsTM:

Kirby Rule 4: The entirety of an interview should seek to give the reader new information regarding the anomaly, or some aspect of the narrative. Much like with experiment logs, there should be almost no redundant information.

To determine if a certain exchange is worth adding to the interview that doesn't contribute to the reader's understanding of the anomaly, it should satisfy the following three criteria:

  • The exchange must make sense given the personalities of the characters involved.
  • The exchange introduces or reinforces an attribute of a character that is relevant to another part of the narrative (usually in motivating a character's actions later on).
  • The exchange flows smoothly from the previous part of the interview, and integrates smoothly into the next part.

Criteria one and two are generally more important than three, however if the transition is too jarring you could interrupt the flow of the reader, which hurts the pacing.

You can also aid the pacing of any interview (or most dialogue for that matter) if there's some sort of conflict between the characters involved. It might not play out directly on the page, but if there's some semblance of a struggle between characters, it makes the reader want to read on to see who comes out on top. If everyone in an interview is working together, then it usually plays flat, since a story's sense of progression is usually tied to the characters' struggles against conflict.

++ Conclusion

##blue|Hopefully I've outlined some tips you can use to tighten up the pacing of your SCP article. As always, this sort of thing is very subjective. What I've presented here is just how I go about making sure my SCPs flow well, and feel compelling to read. There's going to be some exceptions, and not every rule will work for everyone, but hopefully this gives you a place to start if you have no clue what you're doing with regard to this thing we call "pacing".

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