Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Kill the Pain and Up the Pace Part 2

Yesterday, we talked about three pace killers. Here are some other elements to consider.

DIALOGUE AND NARRATION: There should be a nice balance between dialogue and narration. Sometimes, it’ll be 50/50. Other times, one will dominate and then the other. That’s fine as long as you change it up. Keeping the story at a 50/50 ratio becomes too predictable. Having too much dialogue or narration for long periods can tire the reader.

DIALOGUE ON ITS OWN: Dialogue tags slow down the pace, so use them sparingly. Also, if you want to speed up the pace, keep the dialogue short. Reading extended paragraphs of dialogue is like listening to a long winded person talking. At some point, you tune them out.

DESCRIPTION OVERLOAD: Settings and descriptions should be a intertwined in the story through action, thoughts, and dialogue. Stopping the story to dump a description of the setting is no longer the norm.

PLACEMENT OF PLOT TWISTS: If plot twists aren't placed in the correct spots, you may discover a sagging middle. If there aren’t enough turning points, the reader may feel there was no substance to the story.

: Make sure all conflicts are resolved, but in a timely manner. Too soon and the end drags. Too late and the reader isn’t satisfied.

The bottom line is this. Many things affect the pace of a story: too many lines in a paragraph; too many paragraphs in a scene; too many scenes in a chapter; too many chapters; too many long sentences; too many short sentences; too many pages in a scene; and the list goes on. Learn to identify them. Kill the pain and up the pace!

Which pace killer does your story suffer from the most?


  1. Another good post, L!

    Drop by and read an interview with a writing master if you get a chance today. :)

  2. Great points! There is so much to manage in writing, it can be overwhelming!

  3. This can be overwhelming! It actually took me down for a while till I sat down and made lists and bullet points and then made an outline. I think (hope) that I put the ups and downs in the right places :). And now I can just follow along and write without constantly worrying about it. Of course now I'm thinking I need to go check it!

    I'm a major dialogue writer, probably much more of that than description, because description is what I tend to skip when I read.

  4. Lordy! And non-writers think writing is easy. Ha! Great post.

    Straight From Hel

  5. i have to really watch my adverbs and adjectives - so probably description overload.