Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What is Pacing?

Am I the only writer that has a hard time with pacing? Pacing is rhythm. It's like the rhythm in a song, only this rhythm is in your book. Things move at a certain speed and hopefully the reader can feel the rhythm or pacing in your book. If things are moving too slow, speed them up. My problem is, I'm always moving things too fast. I need for my characters to slow down a bit. Not too much, mind you. Just enough. I want to master pacing, but how can I master something that I can't even explain? I know it's critical. I understand that it's got to do with anything in your novel. Not just conflict. Am I right?

Every great book has great tension. Every great book is perfectly paced I'm talking about all those books that you just can't put down. I figure if these writers of all the great books learned pacing, then I probably need to understand it too.

When I'm writing, and especially when I'm revising, if I see a particular spot where things don't seem to be moving at all, I know I've got to create some sort of discord or something to get that thing moving faster. Readers long for surprise. They want and need the unexpected. I want to give it to them. So what am I doing about this? I'm trying to read great novels and I am going to search out the moments of tension. Then I'm going to think about how the author plays with that tension to create the perfectly paced book. :)

So am I the only writer that has a hard time with this? :)

23 comments:

  1. No, Mulder, you're not alone. Okay, that was an X-Files reference, just in case you were in doubt.

    With Margarita Nights - pacing is not a problem, since each chapter details a different month. Part II begins six months after the end of Part I and I clearly specifiy that six months have passed.

    Other projects - well, I have the same dilemma. I try to make sure that something happens in each chapter. I mean, I don't want to read a book where six chapters deal with the same day. Not fun, not fun at all. Now, I have read books where a few chapters cover the same day. If multiple exciting events are happpen - okay. If not, not okay.

    Do I have any helpful words of wisdom? Sorry, all out for today. I think you're on the right track with your revising and research. Best of luck.

    S

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  2. Scott, I'm Scully, you're Mulder. And I'm relieved to hear that I'm not the only one. I can go to the extreme and make nothing but excitement happen in every chapter, That can get a bit old too. :)

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  3. Not at all. I've had my books rejected before. The reason: pacing is too slow. Problem: I can't see it. Solution: yeah, still working on that one.

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  4. Elana, Aw, when you find it will you let me know? I can't see it either. :)

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  5. If the problem is that you are moving too fast try the old cliche of taking time to smell the roses. In other words, have the characters become aware of something sensory or an internal reaction to what's going on so that you take mini-breaks from action for reflective or descriptive moments. Don't know if I made that clear but hopefully it helps. I've been told sometimes I hurry through scenes that I could milk for more emotional impact, so I understand.

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  6. Tricia, great way to explain it. You made it crystal clear. And I will try and get a better handle on it through using this. Thanks. :)

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  7. I also hurry through scenes and have a hard time with description, whether it be of charcters or scenery. Pacing is something we all have to learn.

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  8. Patti, I am so glad I'm not in this alone! Thanks :)

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  9. I have a harder time pacing my subplots. The distal from the MC the harder to navigate. Not sure why. Great topic.

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  10. Pacing is a hard one to put your finger on. Should it be even throughout? Ebb and flow. I think of it in some books as the place my eyelids start to droop.

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  11. When I'm in doubt about my pacing, I try to kill off someone, or blow something up. That usually helps ;)

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  12. I'll get back with you on that, but for now I'm finding myself pacing back and forth for some reason...

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  13. T. Anne, I have a hard time pacing period! Subplots and all! :)

    PJ, You mean when the pacing slows to a crawl. Yep, that puts me to sleep everytime. :)

    Beth, You are always wanting to kill somebody. :)

    Blase, pacing back and forth! :) You're too funny.

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  14. Ah, but I wish pacing were a problem right now. My problem is far worse -- nothing is coming out.Therefore,nothing makes its way to the page. I'm in a "dry spell". It's maddening!

    Good luck on getting just the right pacing you're striving for. Hopefully, that will be soon.

    Hope you have a super day tomorrow and a fantastic weekend!!!!

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  15. dellgirl, So sorry about that. It will come, you know? I'm hoping that I will get the right pace for my novel. Thanks for the good wishes. I hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow and a great weekend too. :)

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  16. I feel stupid saying this, but I really don't know. I think I'm doing okay as no one's ever called this to my attention before. >.< Or maybe I've missed it. Something that helps me is that everything in the story has to have a point. Everything. Otherwise, it gets put back out in the pond with the rest of the frogs. O:)

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  17. Danyelle, I love your frog vs princess analogy you have been using. And pacing isn't a problem for you. So that is how you do it? Everything has to have a reason? Hmmm!! I'll let you know if this helps me. Sounds great, if I can just do it! :)

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  18. It's hard to do, but try to have tension on every page. :)

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  19. I have this problem off and on. It totally depends on the manuscript for me. Great post!

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  20. Angie, I'm trying. I'm trying! It IS hard to do. :)

    BJ, Thanks! I wish my problem with it was off and on. I hope I'm getting a handle on it though. :)

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  21. Yay! Danyelle will you keep cheering me on? :)

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