March 12, 2010


Pacing is the heartbeat of your writing. Too slow and the story dies. If the pacing stays too fast for too long... the story dies. What you want is a nice balance of high and low points.

But low points still need conflict. This is why information dumping doesn't work. When you dump, the pacing automatically slows and there is a complete void of conflict.

"But my reader needs to know this!" you might say.

Then show it. Bit by bit. I have a story where my heroine (a high school girl) does some strange things when she gets home--double-checking the locks and carrying mace in a friendly small-town setting. And then I move on. The pacing was slow there (because my character was being meticulous), but the reader is interested and asking questions.

Later, at another slow point, my heroine is with the love of her life, but something is keeping her from diving into the relationship. Why? She gets flashes of memory of her mom, crying on the floor telling her to go back to bed. She has a red mark on her chin where the heroine's dad has hit the mom. At this point, the reader is putting this information together with some earlier stuff.

The heroine's dad was abusive and apparently has made the heroine skiddish. Not only for her safety, but when she's around any man. See how these slow points, this slow pacing, still has conflict? It moves the story forward, even though slow pacing is appropriate.

Enough about my writing. Let's see what the oh-so-clever internet has to say about pacing.

C. Patrick Schulz reveals The Secrets to Pace Your Novel and argues that slow pacing kills your novel. He gives some tips on how to move things along. If you've ever wondered how to speed up the pacing of your novel, this is the post for you. You can even listen to the podcast.

Unfortunately, there isn't a ton of information on this subject (at least that I've found). Most people just say, "don't let the pace drag" or "fix the pacing". Hugely helpful, I know.

But these posts are semi-related.

Jennifer Cruise writes an article on Argh Link about pacing your novel from a plotting perspective. Basically, stepping back and making sure your novel moves along plot-wise.

One thing I really struggle with is being too "jumpy". The pacing is off because the story seems disjointed and sudden. This happens because I'm terrible at transitions. As soon as I've done what needs to be done, I move on to the next scene. Ask the editor has given me some great tips: Help with transitions.

No comments:

.i2Style{ font:bold 24px Tahoma, Geneva, sans-serif; font-style:normal; color:#ffffff; background:#67b310; border:0px none #ffffff; text-shadow:0px -1px 1px #222222; box-shadow:2px 2px 5px #000000; -moz-box-shadow:2px 2px 5px #000000; -webkit-box-shadow:2px 2px 5px #000000; border-radius:90px 10px 90px 10px; -moz-border-radius:90px 10px 90px 10px; -webkit-border-radius:90px 10px 90px 10px; width:96px; padding:20px 43px; cursor:pointer; margin:0 auto; } .i2Style:active{ cursor:pointer; position:relative; top:2px; }