Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pacing - Keeping it Consistent

Pacing is a tough challenge for every writer. This isn't something that just happens with new authors, even those that are experienced will struggle with this. For the reader, it is pacing that will often destroy that reading experience. Your job as a writer is to keep them interested.

Now, when I talk about consistent pacing I am not talking about setting the book on cruise control and keeping it at that same speed. What I am talking about is having your story move at the right speed at the right time. If you have action, the story needs to move fast; and, yes it is OK to slow it down for those great romantic scenes.

You have also heard agents and editors talk about getting the story moving early on. This is also an issue of pacing. Having a book begin slow is not a way to get a reader excited about a book. I have mentioned this before when I talk about the opening pages of a book. Hook us. This doesn't mean to throw us in the middle of action, but it does mean to get us in the middle of movement.

One of my clients is working on a project right now that had some pacing issues. This is a special project she is working on and there was a lot of research that had to go into it. Because of the situation, she had to give the reader a lot of information early on. This was one of those rare cases when an information dump was necessary. The problem? The pacing was ruined. We had to go back and really cut and trim the project. In this case, while the information was necessary, there were a lot of times that she was over-explaining things. It was there that cuts were made.

The key is to think about each scene in your book. What is the mood and tone. Then, set the speed and go for it.

Now, look at larger sections of your book. Have you kept the reader at a high rate of speed for too long? Maybe you need to restructure the plot some. Give them a rest. Or, if the characters have been lingering and talking for a while, it is time to create some movement.

Shake it up a little.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the advice, it reassured me I am heading in the right direction.