The "Slow-Burner" in terms of Story

I’ve always been a fan of slow-burners. Not in the fanfiction sense where it relates to romance, but in the story sense(but it can still relate to both). I like when a movie or book takes its time to set up all the pieces. I can explore the world and characters as the story moves me to the edge of wondering what the conflict might be. Then, all of a sudden, everything happens at once in the last act. It reminds me of that long ride to the top of a roller coaster, as soon as you’re admiring the view, you drop fast and furious.

Does anyone else have an opinion on this? What’s the threshold for slow-burners in Interactive Fiction? I imagine finding that balance between enthralling and boring comes down to timing.


I hate it. With all my souls in interactive fiction. Because destroys player agency and player character building.

I am assertive bold and direct I have never blush or being shy in a corner Trying for 299,000 words that the person i am interested Decide asking me for a pencil.

No i go and ask the damn guy I go on dates and flirt i have no sexual repression and i am not living in Victorian age. Then As woman only portrayal is.Women weak women submissive woman want have babies and love make up and pink.

I hate pink
I hate babies
I hate make up
I am not submissive
And I don’t need a man NOTICE ME I GO AND ASKING…

No single slow burn gives me agency to explore a relationship even without sex. No is al SHY IN A CORNER LIKE A MORON THE GAME


I do like games where it takes its time to develop the plot, characters, romance, etc, but I don’t like it when they cram everything in the last act. It feels rushed to me that way. I think I prefer it when it takes time to worldbuild but when they do introduce the conflict, they also take time to flesh it out properly and not rush everything at the end.


Agreed. I think the only possible way to pull that off and not have a horribly rushed final act is to just bite the bullet and admit to yourself that you’re doing a series. Book 1: World building, introduction of major characters. And so on.


Yeah that could be awesome to people like me skipping the staring in shadows lurking the npc instead you know actively talking and known npc doing activities and such instead imagine what should be talking with the person

Really depends on what I’m in the mood for, and if the writing is interesting enough to keep me hooked for that long.

If both of those conditions are met, than I can really enjoy slowburn. It would be a nice change of pace from other sorts of media nowadays that don’t hesitate to jump waist deep into the action and not really take the time to go about things too deeply. It has the ability to really slow down and take the time to look and appreciate the world and characters its setting up, while still having the flexibility to change the pacing and action whenever it needs to.

Of course, “flexible” does not mean “invincible”. If things suddenly crescendo all at once like @Paradox mentioned, it totally breaks my immersion and leaves me feeling that they suddenly lost patience to have everything unfold naturally when they had the patience to do so before. Seriously, you spent like 300 chapters’ worth of time building things at your own pace and all of a sudden you blew it all in the very last one? What the fuck, man? I’m not saying that shit can’t hit the fan in one go, but this more often than not just ruins any and all sort of pacing you built up over the course of the series. Not only that, but it leaves me feeling as if I just wasted my time instead of investing it. They say that the journey is more important than the destination, but that takes a turn for the worse when the journey suddenly involves us walking off a cliff.

And of course, this all assumes that the writer has the ability to keep things interesting for that long despite the daunting length. It’s pretty tricky to keep things going for that long and not have it become boring after a while.


I guess a better example of what I mean would be the movie “The Inn Keepers”. It’s not really an issue of scope or conflict, but when the conflict is introduced.

I realize I’m in the minority when it comes to liking slow-burners.

EDIT: Typo in “Movie”.

Ah, I totally see where you’re coming from. Does anyone have any examples of when they ran into something like this in a story? Might be a good study in what to avoid.

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Okay, yes, I see where you’re coming from now. I will admit that I get impatient when I’m clearly a third of the way into the story and the conflict has yet to be introduced. Like, you’re burning daylight, creator person! After a certain point, I get restless because it feels like the creator is giving themselves less and less time to resolve everything, and the fear of a rushed ending starts rearing its ugly head.

Though I feel that is probably more of an issue with books where I can see how far along I am, than with visual media where it’s harder to tell unless I’m actively checking the time.

Stephen King has a bad habit of building these huge elaborate worlds in his novels… and then rushing through the ending like his chair’s on fire. The Stand is a particularly bad case.

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I do, but only when it’s well done. It’s so easy to screw it up fast . Like drag it on so much, the viewer-reader or player…is bored out of their minds half way trough . OMG, I watched a movie like that…I fall asleep half way before…OH THE BIG REVEAL! and that was underwhelming at best .

I don’t mind slow burn romance, but slow burn stories ? its 50/50 . If it’s well done, it make the wait worth it . If it isn’t, then chances I’ll be dropping the stupid thing before I see how it end lol .

I think the main ingredient, at least to me is : If you wanna explore something else from the main story, then keep it fun , keep it on the same level and tone as the main story . If you deviate more…and far away…peoples will start asking ‘Where is this going ?! and why the fuck should I care ?? and can you get it over with already ??’’ .

So yeah, I think it can be done well and in moderation . Of course, I’m not sure if for exemple Manga’s FILLERS can be considered that . And honestly , anyone who does it to exploit more money out of the subject…deserve the hate it get .


The part you quoted is a bit of an exaggeration, but it still accurately sums up the sort of frustration I feel the writer is just padding out the work instead of naturally going at a slow pace.

My bad experience with a slow burn arc.

I came across this while I was reading piece of fanfiction for a very well known anime series, where the premise is more or less “what if the main character actually works towards being what they claim they want to be instead of just talking the talk?”. I was pretty hooked for the first several chapters or so – the character was in question was working towards their objective of being a hero very well by being a more grounded-but-not-jaded vigilante, and there were plenty of actions scenes and moments of relationship building between an unexpected but not unwelcome character who was normally antagonistic to our main character in question in canon. Enough to keep things slow despite the action, but not enough to make me feel bored or think that the author is wasting time.

However, the author made the decision for our main character to then get involved in something that happens in an entirely separate town – and indeed, in an entirely separate series that nonetheless is still in the same universe – that is way over their head but they still decided to do it anyway. That whole arc ends up being a slow, agonizing crawl where the main character is shown time and time again that they’re in way over their head and getting their ass handed to them on a silver platter by the people in that town who are much, much more capable of dealing with the conflict in that area than they are, and causing sleepless nights for the canon-antagonistic character I mentioned above. While this arc did have a central idea to it – that no matter how much of a hero they think they are, there is someone or something out there that will always humble them in terms of sheer power – I feel that this message could’ve been summed up much more succinctly and better than in the 15-ish chapters that arc took to get that message across, especially since the author was doing so well at balancing out action and downtime in the chapters before, and that this arc directly impeded on the story of getting towards how the changes affect the anime’s canon events being shown sooner. It just felt like a waste of time and did nothing except show that they acted like a douche towards the other character they spend a significant amount of time with in this fic.

TL;DR: got hooked on a decent fanfic of an anime that went at a pretty slow pace but still kept things interesting, one arc that dragged on for far too long soured my experience of the whole thing afterwards.

It’s only reasonable to have the climax/resolution in the last act, but there should be proper buildup and complication in the second act. I think that’s where I personally would draw the line: Exposition should be mostly done or at least scaled down in the second act in favour of rising tension. I haven’t seen the movie, but I read The Crimes of Grindelwald has terrible structure with almost no buildup.

God, The Stand has been a steaming load of s***. Not many books have made me as angry as this boring, bloated, meaningless (and laughably sexist) mess.


In terms of plot, I don’t mind a slow burn provided that what I’m reading is interesting material. I’m very character-oriented, so if I’m reading 60 pages of the narrator explaining backstory, and the narrator isn’t a snarky asshole delivering commentary on said backstory, I’m bored. I prefer to have backstory revealed through character interactions. I want to hear their perspective on it, and I want to either agree with or disagree with that perspective and see what other characters think about it. To me, that’s good writing. It reveals the backstory naturally and informs me about a character’s personality based on their reactions.

When it comes to romance, I’m against slow burns but I want the romance to feel realistic. Like, I’m the type to kiss on the first date. If it’s been three dates and the most we’ve done is hold hands, I’m out. But if we’re already planning our wedding after spending a day in the coffee shop, I’m not buying it. Same for my characters. Like, don’t make me wait 9 chapters for something intriguing, but don’t slap me into a committed relationship unless that’s the plot. Let me get something substantial within the first two chapters and keep going with it.


Yep, this. A thousand times this.

As far as a plot goes, there needs to be some momentum. Getting to know whatever NPC companions your MC gets to pick up along the way, doing things that help move along the overall plot (even if you don’t necessarily realize it at the time), and allow the MC to develop into the person the player wants the MC to be. In other words, don’t force the player to be scared or excited or whatever in reaction to things around them, because, like Mara said, it destroys character building, and takes the player out of the story.

As for the part about resolving everything in the final act, that shit drives me insane, whether it’s for the story itself or for the romances. I absolutely fucking hate romances to be dragged out forever with a bunch of forced bullshit keeping the pair apart, only to have them finally have a kiss at the end of the thing. That is too damned long.

Also, to touch on the whole submissive woman thing–women can be total lions in public, and even when dealing with a RO, but still want a partner who is more take charge (or at least battle for control), all while not being sexually repressed at all. The only game I’ve ever seen this concept actually represented is in Fallen Hero, with the good doctor. In fact, FH has about the best romance stuff I’ve seen thus far, though the thing with Ortega is beginning to drag on too much (at least that seems to be changing in the book 2 demo, thankfully).


Well said. And it also takes a turn for the worse when the “journey” ends up with the MC sitting with their thumbs up their asses for six and a half books, just to be buried under an avalanche of bullshit in the last half of book seven. Ditto for romances… endless interruptions, and never-ending childish “crushing” from characters who are supposed to be adults makes me roll my eyes. Let grown-ups act like grown ups instead of tweens from a bad soap opera.


Like @trevers17, I want the story delivered from the characters’ POVs, not a droning narrator. A lot of people like plot-driven stuff (I think that may be true of those of you who like the drawn out story with a sudden end, right?), but I prefer character-driven stories, where the characters act in-character instead of randomly doing things that make no sense because the author demands it in order to drag the story out or force it in the direction they want it. That’s just my preference.

^^^This. All of this. Furthermore, don’t hand me a RO that is, supposedly, all about getting laid (aka, a fuckbuddy romance that will turn into an actual relationship) then force my MC into not banging them, just to drag it out. Blargh. But, likewise, the “we just met, let’s get married/I love you” thing is equally as cringe worthy. Sure, you can be drawn to someone you just met, and it can be intense, but IRL, if someone mentioned marriage before you ever even talked or made out, you’d be looking for the damned door.

Tl;DR: I don’t like slow, dragged out stories with sudden endings and hate it in romances even more. I prefer character-driven stories, where there is some sort of progression, even if that progression isn’t always obvious. In romances, there needs to be obvious progression, without ridiculous obstacles (i.e., endless interruptions, not actual obstructions to a relationship) and an opportunity to progress physically and intellectually before the MC and LI declare “tru wuv” at the very end.


@EvilChani Fallen hero is an example of how make relationship character driven and realistic With the golden and sadly not really used too much feature of LETTING PLAYERS ÇHOOSE IN A CHOICE GAME.

Fallen Hero

I created a character that is divided in three One the puppet is a mental portrait of What my Pc wants to be Sexy bold like to lead in bed and a little exuberant and exhibitionist (think second part even let you be if you want)
The villain personality is sarcastic aggressive but same time trying desperately not kill anyone to subconsciously find some way to return to be a heroine again. To be loved by people and admired. End in a relationship with Argent because she is the secure person aggressive and wild she would aspire to be.
*Then the Mara layer the depressed mess that trying to have a good life and cure herself and be human she is starting accept her own body while learning to fix it. She is scared by her new find feeling for Herald and even if she desires him she is mortally scared about touching in her own body so will be nearby the concept of slow burning.

So it is a question of letting choose player in character focused story. You could actually date someone and talking and going out organically learning the npc goals and weird tics. Like real life. No need to be Lurking forever in shadows five volumes desiring but not letting player choose if do something about it or not.