Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kill the Pain and Up the Pace Part 1

Does Your Story Suffer from Pace Killers? Is your narration putting your readers to sleep? Do your actions scenes tire out your readers? Pacing is very subjective. What might thrill one reader could cause another to stop reading. However, there are a few elements that’ll ruin the pace every time.

BACKSTORY: Beware of the backstory dump. Yes, your story needs SOME backstory, but it should be hidden in the dialogue, action, and introspection. Weave it in a little at a time and remember you may need to know everything about your characters, but the reader doesn’t.

INTROSPECTION: When used properly in deep POV, introspection can bring a story to life. However, it’s often overused. The reader doesn’t need to know every single thing the character’s thinking just as you wouldn’t want to hear everything that crosses the mind of the person sitting next to you on the bus. Also, be careful where you place introspection. Don’t be predictable by starting every chapter or scene that way and don’t place it in the middle of a high action scene. Keep it real. He wouldn’t be thinking about her beautiful eyes while he’s fighting for both of their lives. Save that for slower scenes.

INFORMATION SWAP: Sometimes writers use this technique to avoid backstory dumps, but the effects are similar. Having two characters sitting at a coffee shop discussing their pasts. Something else must happen to liven up that scene. Maybe they get interrupted by someone else, which can cause conflict. Perhaps there’s some sort of distraction, like a robbery or a waiter who trips and knocks the dessert tray on one of the characters. Another option is to have the characters doing something as they have this exchange, but even there, it should be limited or you’ll be accused of adding too much information.


Tune in tomorrow for part 2.

Have you read a story that suffered from pace killers?

12 comments:

  1. Great reminders, Lynette. Thanks!

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  2. Nice post. These are definitely good tips.

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  3. good stuff and things we always need to be reminded of. i've certainly been guilty of some of these before...especially the backstory one...but think I have learned to keep an eye out and chop it when it sneaks into my writing :D

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  4. Very good points--once I figured out how to use deep POV it helped:)

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  5. Great post! I'm struggling with the info swap right now. Thanks for the tips!

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  6. Lynette,
    I am a big backstory dumper. It's how I get all the backstory out into the story, then after a few rereads I end up deleting, deleting, until it comes into balance.

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  7. Excellent tips. Thanks so much.
    karen

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  8. I'm finding backstory dumps as I edit my WIP. It's frustrating, to say the least! Thanks for those reminders!

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  9. I've been thinking a lot about pacing lately. Thanks, Lynette for this great post.

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