Pacing your novel – 5 essential tips
There is little worse than reading a story with poor pacing. Whether it’s too slow and dull, or everything happens in a blur, you’ll find a lack of enjoyment. The key is getting the pacing just right, building tension, revealing information, holding back secrets, and ensuring suspense while maintaining reader interest. With that in mind, here are some essential tips for pacing your novel.
Start with the action
Slow starts will get you nowhere. It can be tempting to open with world building, character descriptions, and thorough backgrounds, but these details won’t capture readers’ attention. Don’t get me wrong; you need to know these things. But you should start with the action, rather than the lead up to it. That way you pull the reader in at once.
One of the best parts of reading is the way books open up new worlds to us, whether a story is set in an unpronounceable ancient kingdom, the far reaches of outer space, ancient history, the distant future, or even the real world but maybe somewhere we’ve never been. It’s an incredible experience to be immersed in an unfamiliar setting.
Still, I’m not sure that all aspiring authors give quite enough thought to setting. The best worlds are more than just the trees that dot the hillsides or the stars in outer space.
Here are some of the most important elements in creating a memorable setting.
on Just Publishing Advice:
Is it a moot point or a mute point? The correct answer is a moot point.
We use the word mute to mean silent or unable to speak. You use a mute button to silence a television or computer.
But moot as an adjective means having little or no practical relevance. Moot can also mean something is subject to uncertainty, open to debate, or dispute.
When we say that a point is moot, we mean that an issue or fact is uncertain or irrelevant, but it is certainly not silent.
on The Write Life:
When writing is your job, it can be easy to put off reading books regularly because you spend so much time writing (maybe in an online group even!). However, a great way to improve your writing is actually by reading.
As Stephen King opines in his classic On Writing, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
If you aren’t reading regularly, you need to be. So how do you choose your books and who do you discuss them with?
It is time to explore the growing community of online book clubs.
Online book clubs have existed for years, but they emerged in greater force during the early stages of the pandemic when people were encouraged to stay home. They exist to connect readers with new books and people. Online book clubs are a perfect place to explore if you are trying to start a new reading hobby or expand on what you already have.
Here are some reasons you should join as well as a number of specific places to look.
on The Creative Penn:
Language is powerful.
We choose words carefully in our written works because we understand their impact. They carry a message from one mind to another. They shape ideas. They can change lives.
But writers often use language carelessly when it comes to the business side of being an author, and it shows that many still don’t understand copyright, and how rights licensing can impact your publishing choices, as well as your financial future.
I’ve run across several examples of this recently in discussion with author friends and also online, so I thought it was time for a refresh on intellectual property (IP) — and how important it is to define terms as we move toward Web 3 and a new iteration of what ‘digital’ even means.
Drama is the lifeblood of all good storytelling. In our modern world, where audiences have billions of choices regarding how to spend their time? Drama needs to be in everything we create if we hope to get so much as a passing glance.
I don’t care if it’s a novel, a podcast, a documentary, or a food vlog on YouTube. We must differentiate our content, and drama is the best human bait there is. It will hook hard, and hook DEEP.
Drama can make ANYTHING more interesting (providing we have the option of being mere observers). Seriously, a giant brawl breaks out at a HAM Radio event, and we just happened to be walking by?
I don’t care if it is a class on how to use Excel, itemize your taxes, or ways to rebuild dot-matrix printers.
Should the ‘you-know-what’ hit the proverbial fan?
We’ll go from bee-bopping on autopilot to SUDDENLY? We’re at FULL attention.
Drama engages us one way or another. At the very least, drama gets our attention, but drama could also…get us involved.
***Put a pin in that word ‘involved.’
And YES, humans are weird.
Most of us hate drama at home, in life, at work and find it exhausting. Why? Because we don’t have a choice in the matter. Drama works the exact opposite in life.
Johari Window: Harnessing Character Blind Spots
The Johari Window can be one of many powerful tools for crafting dimensional characters. It can also help creators develop layered stories (plots) that will resonate long after the audience reaches ‘The End.’ Why? Because great fiction is even better therapy.
Too many believe fiction to be a fluff, an escape, a fantasy getaway. Some fiction does this for sure. Yet, the stories that hit the market and continue to ripple for decades, centuries, or even for millennia share a common denominator.
They offer the audience deeper insights into themselves, their beliefs, and the world around them. Also, their messages are timeless. It’s why we can take a Shakespearian play and set it in modern times and the story and message are just as powerful.
The characters might wear modern clothing, fight with machine guns instead of swords, but we identify with their hopes, dreams, hurts, struggles and weaknesses just as much as the audiences from centuries ago.