Tag Archives: mistakes

7 Tools For Pacing A Novel

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PACEPacing is a crucial component of fiction writing. After all, it’s important to keep your readers “hooked” throughout your story. Whether you are just getting started in writing or looking to break into fiction writing, you’ll need to know the basics of how to pace a novel. Read today’s tip of the day from Crafting Novels & Short Stories. In this excerpt written by Jessica Page Morrell, she explains what pacing is and seven ways to keep your story moving at the right pace.

What is Pacing in Fiction?

Pacing is a tool that controls the speed and rhythm at which a story is told, and the readers are pulled through the events. It refers to how fast or slow events in a piece unfold and how much time elapses in a scene or story. Pacing can also be used to show characters aging and the effects of time on story events.

Pacing differs with the specific needs of a story. A far-reaching epic will often be told at a leisurely pace though it will speed up from time to time during the most intense events. A short story or adventure novel might quickly jump into action and deliver drama.

Pacing is part structural choices and part word choices and uses a variety of devices to control how fast the story unfolds. When driving a manual transmission car, you choose the most effective gear needed for driving uphill, maneuvering city streets, or cruising down a freeway. Similarly, when pacing your story, you need to choose the devices that move each scene along at the right speed.

Seven Literary Devices for Pacing Your Story

You need speed in the opening, middle, and climax of your story. Sure, you’ll slowdown from time to time, especially to pause for significance and to express characters’ emotions, but those times will usually appear just before or after a joyride of skin-tightening speed.

There are lots of tools to hasten your story. Some are better suited for micropacing—that is, line by line—and some are better suited for macropacing—pacing the story as a whole. Let’s take a closer look at each device.

ACTION. Action scenes are where you “show” what happens in a story, and, when written in short- and medium-length sentences, they move the story along. Action scenes contain few distractions, little description, and limited transitions. Omit or limit character thoughts, especially in the midst of danger or crisis, since during a crisis people focus solely on survival. To create poignancy, forgo long, descriptive passages and choose a few details that serve as emotionally charged props instead.

CLIFF HANGERS. When the outcome of a scene or chapter is left hanging, the pace naturally picks up because the reader will turn the page to find out what happens next. Readers both love and hate uncertainty, and your job is to deliver plenty of unfinished actions, unfilled needs, and interruptions. Remember, cliffhangers don’t necessarily mean that you’re literally dangling your character from a rooftop as the scene ends. If your characters are in the midst of a conversation, end the scene with a revelation, threat, or challenge.

DIALOGUE. Rapid-fire dialogue with little or no extraneous information is swift and captivating, and will invigorate any scene. The best dialogue for velocity is pared down, an abbreviated copy of a real-life conversation that snaps and crackles with tension. It is more like the volleying of Ping-Pong or tennis than a long-winded discussion. Reactions, descriptions, and attributions are minimal. Don’t create dialogue exchanges where your characters discuss or ponder. Instead, allow them to argue, confront, or engage in a power struggle.

PROLONGED OUTCOMES. Suspense and, by extension, forward movement are created when you prolong outcomes. While it may seem that prolonging an event would slow down a story, this technique actually increases the speed, because the reader wants to know if your character is rescued from the mountainside, if the vaccine will arrive before the outbreak decimates the village, or if the detective will solve the case before the killer strikes again.

SCENE CUTS. Also called a jump cut, a scene cut moves the story to a new location and assumes the reader can follow without an explanation of the location change. The purpose is to accelerate the story, and the characters in the new scene don’t necessarily need to be the characters in the previous scene.

A SERIES OF INCIDENTS IN RAPID SUCCESSION. Another means of speeding up your story is to create events that happen immediately one after another. Such events are presented with minimal or no transitions, leaping via scene cuts from scene to scene and place to place.

SHORT CHAPTERS AND SCENES. Short segments are easily digested and end quickly. Since they portray a complete action, the reader passes through them quickly, as opposed to being bogged down by complex actions and descriptions.

SUMMARY. Instead of a play-by-play approach, tell readers what has already happened. Because scenes are immediate and sensory, they require many words to depict. Summary is a way of trimming your word count and reserving scenes for the major events. You can also summarize whole eras, descriptions, and backstory. Summaries work well when time passes, but there is little to report, when an action is repeated or when a significant amount of time has passed.

WORD CHOICE AND SENTENCE STRUCTURE. The language itself is the subtlest means of pacing. Think concrete words (like Prodigy and iceberg), active voice (with potent verbs like zigzag and plunder), and sensory information that’s artfully embedded. If you write long, involved paragraphs, try breaking them up.

Fragments, spare sentences, and short paragraphs quicken the pace. Crisp, punchy verbs, especially those with onomatopoeia (crash, lunge, sweep, scatter, ram, scavenge) also add to a quick pace. Invest in suggestive verbs to enliven descriptions, build action scenes and milk suspense.

Harsh consonant sounds such as those in words like claws, crash, kill, quake, and nag can push the reader ahead. Words with unpleasant associations can also ratchet up the speed: hiss, grunt, slither, smarmy, venomous, slaver, and wince. Energetic, active language is especially appropriate for building action scenes and suspense, and for setting up drama and conflict.

A fast pace means trimming every sentence of unnecessary words. Eliminate prepositional phrases where you don’t need them: For example, “the walls of the cathedral” can be written as “the cathedral’s walls.” Finally, search your story for passive linking verbs and trade them in for active ones.

By: Courtney Carpenter

Writer’s Digest

Deep Thoughts

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NewbornI believe that man is born inherently good. We are born with all of the goodness that God can bestow on one human being. How many cruel and evil babies have you seen? What you see is a miracle of God at its best. A perfect little human.

That child enters this world with nothing but trust, and remains that way until their brain has matured enough to begin seeing the world around them. What a child learns are what we as a human race teach them. Do you think that a child wakes up one morning thinking, “you know when I am seventeen, I’m going to be selling dope, and I might even rob a liquor store. I think for kicks I’ll shoot the person who’s there.”

What do you think this child learned while his mind was developing? Were mom and dad both working in order to take care of the family? Maybe the child was a latchkey kid who sat in front of the television for hours watching humans kill, beat and rape other humans. Laugh at others misfortune. It could have also been a case of a one-parent family where the child felt abandoned. There are multitudes of possible reasons. Bottom line is they learn by example.
This child may not have received any guidance from his/her parents, because they received none from theirs. How can a young adult make good choices concerning their life if their main role models didn’t teach and guide them. It makes it very easy to take guidance from other kids who don’t have guidance from their parents either.

We live an “anything goes” life style. Parents do their thing and kids do theirs. My parents were firm believers in the spare the rod spoil the child mentality. Their parenting skills came from what they saw and lived as children. My parenting skills were learned the same way. I believe I was a better parent than mine were, and my children are better at parenting than I am.

I blame parents when kids are disrespectful, foul mouthed or when they get into trouble. I know sometimes parents can’t control what is going on, but where were they when morals, values, right and wrong should have been taught.
I believe the majority of parents do the best they can concerning their children. What kind of a favor are we doing future generations by not teaching children how to behave in public or at home for that matter?

I have two grown children who turned out well in spite of me. Do I have regrets about their raising? You bet I do. I wish I could do it over again, but that’s not possible. I have to live with my mistakes. I wish every household could be like the thirty minute shows in the 50’ and 60’s such as “My Three Sons, or Father Knows Best, and Leave It To Beaver. Wouldn’t our world be wonderful? We’d have perfect households with terrific kids who would talk to their parents about anything. They made mistakes, but not bad ones. Everything ended on a positive note.

Have we as a society created a future society with an attitude of “I’ll do what I want, when I want and I don’t care what happens to you.” It is a very scary thought to me what my grandchildren will have to deal with. How do you feel about it?

Don’t Make The Mistake. A Lesson Learned

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Little Pets 1

Image via Wikipedia

I certainly learned a big lesson when I self- published my book “The Tower” last November.  I was  so excited I’d actually wrote myself and the world a book.  How cool is that?  My family and I patted myself on the back until we all needed our shoulders fixed.  What a magical time and it did feel good.

Now it is June of 2011 and I have pulled the book from sale.  Bottom line is I was in such a hurry I didn’t think I needed to follow the long tedious process that’s been proven to be successful.

I wrote a very good story, but when I read it again after six months.  I knew I couldn’t leave it out in the world.

I can say I’ve leared a great deal over the last six months, I didn’t know when I wrote the book.  I looked at it and my brain screamed, How could you make those kind of mistakes.  For me it was lack of knowledge at the time.

I know I’ve not been the only one who made this error of getting in such a hurry, I failed to produce a quality book.    I’m now in the process of correcting the errors I made and hope to have the book back on the market in a couple of months.

Pay attention to what fellow writers say.  Always put your writing away for awhile and then go back and critique it.  You might be surprised at what you find.  I learned the lesson the hard way so I wanted to share with you, so just maybe you might be smarter than I was.

Edit until you can’t edit anymore

After you put it away, pull it out and edit again.

The video today is a fast talking young woman on How To Publish.

http://youtu.be/U-dZV2qUy9g