Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Cook Your Novel Low and Slow

Happy Tuesday, good people of the blogosphere! If you remember my post from yesterday, where I gave you some tips and tricks on how to speed up the pace of your novel, you'll know what's coming today. If you missed that one, be sure and check it out here. We're talking about how to slow down the pace today. So, grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!

Sometimes, a novel needs to slow down a bit to let the reader catch their breath. Unless you're Dean Koontz, or your idea is similar to Intensity, where the reader is on the edge of their seat the whole time. Ha! Readers need a break in the action or they get overwhelmed.

Here's how you can slow things up a bit:

  • Have your character make a mistake. Success constantly moves a story forward, and it increases the pace. If you want to slow down a bit, introduce a misstep they have to reverse and correct before proceeding.

  • Distract the character. This move can also distract the reader, so use with care. You can engage the reader's emotions rather than starting a mundane task though. Maybe John and Marsha are arguing, and the intensity of the scene is up there. She's getting ready to go on a date with him, so she stops yelling and turns to apply her makeup (which is difficult with the tears in her eyes). You get the point.

  • Change the structure. Longer sentences take more time to read and digest. Be wordy, use description, and use words like flugelbinder (kidding - that's not a word). On a serious note, pay attention to the length of paragraphs or placement of soft sounding words.

  • Insert inner-monologue or memories. These are an excellent device to halt the flow of the story by bringing the reader back in time or into the character's head. It stilts flow, and that's good when trying to slow things down.

  • Insert action scene followup. Your character just committed his or her first murder. Give them a moment to reflect on what they've done and think about the consequences. Not all action scenes need this, but use it when you need to cook something to a tender state.

  • Use more description. I'm terrible at this (just ask my editor), but it has it's place in a novel. Sometimes, talking about the scenery or what the little dog's fur color pattern looks like is just what a scene needs to add a little molasses.

I hope you found these tips helpful. Are there any I missed?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


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