Sunday, November 13, 2011

Keeping the Pace

I have been told several times over the years that my books are fast-paced.  Editors, agents, etc. have told me that my books travel from start to finish like a speeding train without brakes.  Sometimes this isn't a good thing.  Some people want a nice, slow ride.  My books are not for them.  I write YA books because teens seem to enjoy a book that moves along without slowing down.  I decided to write this post after receiving a review on Smashwords about Crushed from a guy.  Usually guys don't read my books because they are paranormal romance, but he gave me four stars and said I have mastered the art of pacing.  Good to hear.  Now if I could just get a handle on other aspects of writing.

I spent some time last night thinking about pacing.  I know of a few author friends who have trouble with it.  They have asked me a few times how I do it.  I never really know what to say, but I'm going to give it a shot here and see if I can figure it out.

1.  Don't Waste a Scene:  I try to make sure every scene has a reason for being in my book.  It has to share a new piece of information with the reader, develop the characters further, take the reader on an emotional ride, or move the plot forward in some other way.  Also, if I am bored while writing the scene then the reader will be bored reading it.  In that case, I start over.

2.  Conflict:  There are always several things happening in my books.  The protagonist has a main problem but also several smaller ones.  I think conflicts help the story move at a faster pace.

3.  Sentence Structure:  Shorter sentences make things move faster, but you have to watch it or your book will be choppy.  That was the number one complaint from my former editor.  I had to really work on varying my sentence structure.  However, I do use a lot of short sentences during fight scenes or other scenes where the protag is in danger.  As far as I know this approach works well.  I haven't had any complaints from professionals when it comes to my action sequences.

4.  Dialogue:  Conversations make the story go faster and long, detailed paragraphs slow it down.

5.  Shorter Chapters:  This is a trick I picked up from another writer.  To pick up the pace, make the chapters shorter towards the end of the book.  When you are doing suspense, maybe a mystery, you want to pick up the pace near the end.  This works.  Also shorter scenes help make it seem to move faster.

Okay, that's all I can think of right now.  I don't do any of these things intentionally when I write though.  When I sit down at the computer, I am not thinking about making the pace move fast.  I just write. 
Hope this info helps someone.  Happy writing!

1 comment:

MaryAnn Pope said...

Great tips! Pacing is so important. I've noticed YA seems to have such a faster pace than adult books. After reading YA for a while, I had a hard time going back to adult books. They just seemed to move so slow.

Thanks for sharing.