August 29, 2011

pace yourself



The end of my book is rushed. I know it, and a friend recently validated that claim.

I can speculate the reasons why I wrote it that way: I was excited to reach the final scene where everything is resolved, the final conflict was particularly emotional for me to write or maybe I just wanted to finish the darn book.

Whatever the reason, I need to fix it.

I went to the Blogosphere with this question, because I didn't have a clue with what to do.

In 5 Ways to Pace Your Story, the blogger makes an excellent analogy: "Pacing is like a dam. It allows the writer to control just how fast or how slow his plot flows through the riverbed of his story. Understanding how to operate that dam is one of the most important tasks an author has to learn."

That's a good way to put it, and one I'd never considered before. Right now, my story reads like a dam with a slow leak. The operator fell asleep somewhere in the middle and wakes up suddenly to realize he or she is late on unleashing the water and turns it up to full blast in hopes of making up for the missed time frame.

This blogger gives five steps to follow to pace your story:
•  Use length to control momentum (i.e.  Short scenes and chapters build intensity. Keep these scenes to 500-800 words.
•  Vary pacing. Sometimes, you need a slower scenes to give readers a chance to catch their breaths.
•  Pay attention to details. A good way to slow things down is to go over every detail of description (For example try: He took a short breath and stared at the barrel of the handgun. Sweat dripped down the gunman's forehead and glistened in the dim light cast from the lantern. The man said a quick prayer to his maker and prepared himself for the telltale sound of a blast.)
•  In contrast, control what you show or tell. Perhaps, like in the previous example, it would be more beneficial for pacing to have the character's death be sudden. (Example: A shot fired, and the man dropped limply to the floor.)
•  Use sentence structure. Again, longer sentences will slow down action. Shorter sentences speed it up.

I hope these tips help you as much as I know they'll help me. Happy writing and have a great week!

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