Monday, August 02, 2010

Monday Mulligan Stew

Today I'll share with you something my CP Nicole McCaffrey and I put together for an online workshop a couple of years ago.

There are many reasons for a reader to set a book down. And only one to pick it up again. Pacing.

Pacing can be described as the rate of change you want your reader to experience.
Pacing drives the plot of the story.
Pacing can be defined as questions you raise to compel the reader to turn the page

When you can’t put a book down until you find out what happens next, that’s great pacing.

Good Pacing is NOT:
Too many/too few subplots
Solving the mystery too soon, too late or giving TMI
Too many conflicts (as in, you resolve the main conflict keeping the h/h apart, then toss in another for good measure, resolved that one and throw in another)
Simple conflict (the kind that can be resolved with a conversation)
A sagging middle without any plot points or twists to hold it up
Backstory and/or flashbacks
Information dumps
Voice sameness (where all the characters sound alike)
Repetition or reiteration
Thinking in the middle of action (i.e., h/h are in a burning building and he stops to think how sexy she looks by the light of the flames.)
Passive writing i.e., “was”, “ing” and “ly” words; the dreding “was ing” combination.
Hitting the reader over the head (explaining simple things that don’t need explanation) (John hopped into the green car he’d gotten from the rental agency yesterday. The one with the leather seats. Unless the color of the car and the seats and the timeframe involved in renting the car all matter to the story, we can just say John hopped into his rental car.)
Scenes that do nothing to move your story forward.

Pacing is the process of holding back information in a controlled way to lead the reader along.

Pacing is an element of good story telling controlled by:
Your style
Your voice
Your choices
Your decisions throughout the book

In Summary:
Add speed by raising story questions, dialogue, and short chapters. Slow speed with internal dialogue, narrative, and description.

To Pump Up Pace:
-short chapters
-start with dialogue
-very little narrative
-action instead of tags in dialogue
-characters in action
-sexual tension
-subplots raising story questions and adding complications
-two or more characters in a scene
-a ticking clock
-shorter sentences or varied sentences

To Slow Pace
-more narrative
-more descriptions
-longer chapters with longer sequels
-more interior dialogue
-longer sentences
-solitary characters

To Kill Your Pace Altogether:
Back story- large chunks
Things not happening to your character
Dragging out a story questions too long
Repeating information or situations
Vague details
Not enough at risk
Lack of complications or no change in complications


M Pax said...

More great advice. When I find myself getting sucked into my own story after reading it a thousand times, I figure it must be OK.

Paty Jager said...

Mary, you must be doing something right if you are being sucked into your own words. Good job!

Lauri said...

Wow! Great info. I've bookmarked this post!

gtyyup said...

Glad to hear you made it safely to Alaska! Rudy got your hay down...but we had some showers last evening and it's cloudy today...but not raining.

The photo of the buck must be here at Princeton...I think I saw the same big boy in our west field. My cousin has our LOP tag...that might be the one!