In everywriting reference book or article you’ll read, the first thing people say is start the action on the first page. This is soimportantin catchingthereader’s attention. AFTER THAT though, you need to keep the reader’s attention. So keep the action going. I know, I know,it’sso hard to resist the temptation to fill in the background gaps (info dumping = bad) but ask yourself: wouldyou rather read two pages of AND THEN, AND THEN, AND THEN ordo you wantpagesof dialogue/action with the most necessary information woven into the scene? Woven so skillfully that half the time, as the reader, you don’t even know you are picking up the information until it becomes necessary to know it? I vote for dialogue. I vote for action. I vote for a book that moves FAST in which every scene somehow propels the book forward. Something happens in EVERY SCENE that is important to the story and moves the character forward.
That is good pacing.The protagonist never stops moving forward (either through action or growth).
The death of a good book?Ascene that stalls. A scene that (eek!) loses the reader’s attention and she wanders away to watch Gray’s Anatomy (which also has excellent pacing, btw… but then, they only have to keep your attention for an hour long show, not a 100,000 word novel… TVwriters have it so easy (KIDDING TV WRITERS)).
Here are some examples of books with excellent pacing:
Agnes and the Hitman– JenniferCrusie and Bob Mayer (actually JC is the Queen of good pacing, hence the title of this blog post… and it sounded cute)
The Lost Duke of Wyndham– JuliaQuinn (soon to be followed with Mr. Cavendish, I Presume)
Size12 Is Not Fat– MegCabot (1st in the Heather Wells series)
Now, in the case ofAgnes and the Duke, I believe the pacing works really well because the whole of the story takes place over just a few days.Admittedlythisplot device could get tiring after awhile but in these books, it works like a charm. So when you are plotting or editing, take a look at the timeline of your book.Does your WIP stretch over months or years? And if so, could it reasonably be reduced to a shorter time-span?In most cases, Iwouldassume not. It’s probably part of the story that events take place over a longperiod of time. But take a look at the necessarygap between events. Would shortening these gaps speed up the pace?
Ask yourself if dialoguewouldwork better in the scene than narrative
Intersperse internal thought throughout dialogue or action.Don’tlet your heroine sit on the couch and“think” for three pages when she could be talking to her mom onthephone or mucking outan icky horse stall (and venting her emotions through hard labor– see? Youare SHOWING her anger).
Makesure each scene is important to the story
ALL THAT SAID… There are still books andmovies where a slow pace absolutely works and defines the story.These are usually epic novels/movies. However, they don’t sell well these days (which is a shame). Here are a few examples:
Notice how all 3 of these have been turned into movies?If you’re REALLY interestedandhave A LOT of time, go back and compare the books tothe movies. Which scenes were cut? Where they necessary scenes? Or where they merely interesting?Becauseyou can bet the movies move a lot faster than the books.(Which is not always a good thing… books are 10 to 1 better than their movies… hello Harry Potter).
Ok. Enough rambling. I can see the pace of this blog post has stalled. Happy Writing!
Just a Midwest girl with a slightly neurotic twist and a crazy dream of becoming a working writer. Why?
1. I'm a Hopeless Romantic
2. There are voices in my head
3. There is nothing more appealing than a good story.
But aspiring writers can't buy groceries with unread manuscript pages so first, I must go to work. And do my dreaming there.
Want more? You can also find my book reviews and the reviews of other fabulous romance readers at http://readingromancebooks.com