Pick up the Pace

Pick up the Pace

Welcome back, loyal listeners! This week, the Firsts in Fiction team discuss the pacing of fiction and what you can do to get the lead out. As always, you can listen and watch below. Show notes are below the YouTube. Please subscribe and tell your friends!


Pick up the Pace!

  • First Lines Friday’s” winner: Alvin Rubio! For his line “The cold peace is what most expect when they finally pass on from their first life into the next; what they never seem to count on is the whir of the air conditioning.”
  • Pub term of the day: “Commercial fiction”
  • Pick up the Pace
    • What is pacing?
      • All fiction has flow, a beginning and an end. What causes and contributes that flow varies widely.
      • Let’s go whitewater rafting.
        • Departure point
        • Destination
        • Events along the way.
        • Some minor
        • Some life (plot) changing.
      • Pacing is the tool an author uses to:
        • keep the reader engaged
        • increase tension
        • to raise the stakes at the right time.
        • Narrative Pace from Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel
          “The number one mistake I see in manuscript submissions is a failure to put the main conflict in place quickly enough; or, perhaps, a failure to use bridging conflict to keep things going until the main problem is set. In fact, it is the primary reason I reject over 90 percent of the material I receive. […] Narrative pacing is the novelist’s biggest challenge.” Donald Maass, Writing the Breakout Novel, Writer’s Digest Books, 2001, pg. 190)
      • Authors who do it well:
        • Cormac McCarthy
        • Dean Koontz
        • Stephen King
    • When to pick up the pace
      • Lacking action
      • Story is bogged down
      • You’re bored writing it
      • When you find yourself writing “weasel scenes,” scene that bring nothing to the story.
        • Every scene must do one of four things:
          • Reveal more of the character,
          • Reveal more of the problem,
          • Advance the story, or
          • Provide information the reader will need later. (Be careful with this.
          • Keep the reader in mind with every scene you write.
    • How to pick up the pace
      • Add some action
      • Cliffhangers (suspense comes from a Latin word meaning “to hang.”)
      • Dialog
      • Juggling shorter scenes
      • Cutting words
      • Multiple things happening simultaneously
      • Sentence structure
        • Try short, declarative sentences
      • Avoid over describing
      • Limit POV
      • Change POV. (In most cases, use your protag’s pov if s/he is in the scene).
      • Imply something important has or is about to happen, but don’t reveal it.
      • Always remember that fiction takes the reader on a journey of discovery. Let the discovery happen over time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *