Wednesday, March 9, 2011

PACING: How to Keep Things Moving Along

Pacing has never been a problem for me.  In fact, my books have been accused of going too fast.  One editor told me she felt like she'd been hit by a bus by the time she got to the end of the book, so I had to purposely slow things down.  Now that I write for young adults, my books are allowed to move faster than ones for the older crowd.  Since pacing has always come naturally for me, I wanted to share my tips with you.

1.  Short sentences make the reader's eyes move down the page faster.  You don't want to use this very often though.  One good place to use this style is during a fight scene.  Don't go overboard with the short sentences or your scene becomes choppy and too difficult to read. 

2.  Shorter chapters near the end of the book.  This is a little trick I picked up years ago.  I used it in my Romantic Suspense novels.  When you get close to the end of the book, say two or three chapters left, make them shorter.  For example: the bad guy kidnaps the girl and the hero has very little time to save her.  You could have short scenes here going back and forth between the girl's pov and the mc's pov. 

3.  Every scene is important.  Don't just throw a scene into your book because you need the word count to be higher.  Each scene should have importance.  Ask yourself what the scene is there for.  Does it give the reader information about someone or something?  Does it set up something that is about to happen or reveal a secret?  Would your story move along fine without this scene?

4.  Too much detail drags a scene down.  The reader has to have some detail, but you don't have to explain what color everything in a room is.  Readers like to use their imagaination.  If you write three paragraphs detailing where everything in the room is located, the reader might go to sleep on you.  We need details.  We like details.  But ask yourself what is the most important aspects of setting in this scene.  What does the reader have to know?

5.  Use quick and snappy dialouge.  Instead of long paragraphs filled with detail, add an interesting conversation.  Personally, I'd rather hear the characters speak than read huge endless paragraphs.

I delete all scenes that don't carry my story forward.  I like to have action in each scene, even if it's only a revealing conversation.  Anyway, those are my tips for creating a faster pace in your novel.  Happy writing.


mooderino said...

I just did a post on this subject too. A lot of people I critique have a problem with pace, especially at the start of the story. Great tips.

K. C. Blake said...

That's funny. I guess great minds think alike. I will have to check out your post when I get the chance.

Michael said...

I personally like a fast paced story. Get right to the point, you know. I'm reading a book now in which the author (and this is no exaggeration) took almost an entire half page to describe what his MC and his wife order at a restaurant. And I'm talking about right down to how well it was cooked, and what seasons were used. I get it, they're eating at a nice place. Does it tell me anything else? That type of stuff I can definitely do without!

K. C. Blake said...

Michael- Attention spans are getting shorter too, so you can't write five pages on ordering food anymore. I love Stephen King, but I remember in one of his books he kept saying he needed to tell us something, but he kept getting sidetracked. It took nearly fifty or more pages for him to get to the point.

Nancy Beck said...

Good advice.

My problem is that I write in too minimalist of a style - not enough details, lol.

I blame it on my jobs in the corporate world. :-)