Monday, July 6, 2015

Pick Up the Pace

Happy Monday, everyone! Today, we're talking about ways to increase the pace in your novel. I assume you've used the tools in my previous post on measuring pace and scene writing, so now I'm going to give you ways to speed it all up. Tomorrow, I'll tell you how to slow things down. Grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!

You hear folks talk about how a novel dragged on and on, right? To keep your readers interested, you have to have the right combo of a fast pace and a let's-look-at-each-and-every-flower-and-tree pace. Those novels that dragged had more of the second kind. *grin*

Let's fix that.

  • Word usage. This is the most basic way to increase a novel's pace. Shorter words and sentences make reading and processing easier. Seek out places you can cut a sentence to six words or fewer. Oftentimes, you can remove introductory words: Then, However, Often, etc... Independent clauses can come out if they aren't helping the sentence. MS Word has a checker that will seek out wordy sentences for you. You can highlight the section and tell the program to look at it. Easy peasy.
  • Dialogue with few to no action tags. If you refrain from giving description of the characters' movements or expressions during dialogue, it'll help. Stick with invisible tags (tags readers see but don't actually have to process): Said, Asked, Answered. Don't go down the rabbit hole, and keep the back and forth going.

  • Action! This is where you can leave off the telling and show. You aren't trying to increase tension, just give the character some kind of goal and get him or her there. If it's a battle scene, you want to do a little telling and describe a few things, but don't go into paragraph after paragraph of description. Action happens quickly, and you, the writer, can just sit back and watch as the beauty unfolds.

  • Suspense. Yeah, that's right, keep the reader turning the pages to find out what the heck is going on. You'd think dragging something out would slow things down, but it actually engages the reader's brain and makes them read faster so they can find a solution to their twanging nerves.

  • Scene cut/breaks. This is where there's no transition to a new scene. You can end the previous scene on a cliffhanger or not, but your story makes a leap into something totally different. Keep in mind, you can also create a scene cut by cutting out some of the tale where the prose is dragging.

  • Summary paragraphs. Your character just spent three months getting to know the people around them? Awesome. Readers will be fine with a summary now and then if nothing significant happens during those three months. Cut the scene and summarize.

You can use some or all of these techniques. Either way, you're guaranteed to pick up the pacing of your story if you follow the suggestions above.

Which one(s) did you know about, and which are new?

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

Jo

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