Sunday, November 21, 2010
Pacing - The Key to Engaging Readers
Pacing is probably one of the least talked about aspects of writing, yet is critical to creating a 'must-read' novel.
There's got to be a rise and fall to your story. At times there should be a sense of urgency and foreboding. At other times, a few quieter moments for reflection or revelations.
The last thing you want is for your story to 'drag,' but nor do you want the opposite and have your story feel 'chaotic' or 'rushed.'
Many writers fall into a common pattern of 'dragging' out the first two acts, then rushing through the climax. Never good #underanycircumstances :-)
I know I was writing a book and I was having trouble landing it. When I finally finished I said "Thank gawd they are dead!" Luckily my writing buddy said... "Um, I don't think that's how your readers are going to feel."
He was right. Just because as I writer I was ready for my Heroes to die, I needed to make their deaths more poignant and meaningful. #duh But sometimes you get so wound up in your process you forget about the reader's experience.
Pacing is not just about how slow or fast your story goes but the weight with which you give certain aspects of your story. In may case the pacing was fine. It is an action packed paranormal romance.
My problem was I did not give enough 'weight' to their deaths. Think of the number of words as having a physical weight or emphasis. If the weight is too light, people will feel gypped.
So what to do with my example. I need a fast paced, taut ending, but I also need to make people feel satisfied.
Therefore I keep my pace, fairly quick sentences with lots of action, I simply extended the scene. I popped around my POVs to keep the tension up. I threw in another surprise. Basically I spiced it up without losing my original vision of the ending conflict.
Want to hear more about pacing? Then check out my last radio show episode HERE plus set a reminder for next week's episode "Your Hero's Journey starts with a single step... So Don't Screw it up!"