Friday, July 20, 2012

Remember Pacing In Your Stories

There is nothing worse than reading a story where the author seems to have no sense of pace. Either the story moves far too slow or the movie races through the plot and the readers simply beg for a chance to breathe and take it all in.

Appropriate pacing is crucial for any story. As an author, you have to know when it is right to pick up the pace and keep things moving, and when it is appropriate to slow down.

Let's talk about some cases when this is done poorly.

THE BEGINNING We are always talking about starting your stories with forward movement. No, this does not mean to jump into the middle of a chase scene with exploding vehicles (although my father-in-law would argue differently). We are simply saying that you need to get the reader involved as quickly as possible with the lives of the characters. Many authors, however, feel that the opening pages are designed to provide the reader ALL of the ground work about the world, the plot history and so forth. Umm, wrong. Much of that information can come out on a "need to know basis". In simple terms, don't start the story out with the characters just sitting around doing nothing. Along the same lines, don't start out with a huge information dump.

INSERTION OF INTROSPECTION This one is really a funny approach writers often do, and frankly, if they stop and think about it, they would never have written it this way. In the middle of a completely tense or emotional moment, suddenly the author believes this is a great time to let the character have some internal thoughts. When do I see this the most? In the middle of those hot sex scenes. I am sorry to break it to you, but people simply will not have their mind in some location other than between those sheets. And, if they are, would the scene really be that hot?

The bigger issue here is the author is trying to amp up that emotional element and the sudden introspection completely detracts and sucks the energy and life out of the story.

CHARACTER BUILDING IN THE MIDDLE OF A CHASE SCENE This one is for all you romantic suspense people. In simple terms, do not, (I repeat) do not slow the story down in the middle of a chase scene. This also includes suddenly deciding that Chapter 12, right in the middle of the killer demon closing in on them and is just down the street, to have the characters feel the need to express themselves emotionally and have that hot sex scene. Yes, I know many of you try to justify with the phrase (emotional release sex), but this just doesn't work.

DIALOGUE INSTEAD OF INTROSPECTION Look there are times when we need a break and having the character contemplate a few things is OK.  You have to give the reader a chance to do this now and then. For this reason, feel free to let the other characters leave the room and slow things down a little. Those small moments are much like those scenes or reality shows when the characters get to talk, theoretically, without anyone bugging them. We supposedly get some insight into what they are really thinking but maybe not saying when they are out there and on camera.

I am not saying to eliminate many of these scenes. I am simply saying to consider maybe finding a better place to put that scene.


1 comment:

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