Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tricks to Control Pace - Scene and Structure #9

This has been a hectic week for me. Getting ready to go back to work and teacher staff development..... if you've ever taught, I don't need to say more, LOL. If you haven't, well it usually consists of lots of sitting and listening to rules and procedures. Usually stuff you've heard every year for years! Occasionally they will throw in something new or fun, but it's rare.

It has been hard for my daughter to adjust back into a daycare schedule. We were so spoiled sleeping in during the summer. I miss her knocking on my door in the morning and snuggling in bed until we were ready to get up and greet the day.

But I digress.... You really wanted to know the tricks didn't you. Hold on to your britches, LOL. I'm getting there!

Have you ever read or been writing a book and felt like your eyes barely crept across the page? Where the pace of the book nearly had you ready to roll your eyes and toss the kindle on the bed and take a nap?

What do you do when your manuscript is moving the speed of snail slime? I usually have a fight break out *giggle* or my favorite thing to do (my critique partner would tell you) is have the heroine kidnapped! I seriously enjoy a good kidnapping. Maybe I'm just a sucker for watching the hero rescue the heroine....

So last week we talked about SEQUELS (The thoughtful, can be extended, have summary in them, and therefore are slow-reading). SCENES are the exciting, conflictful, densely packed with action and dialogue, and therefore fast-reading.

Techniques to Speed the Story

  1. Check your WIP for places where a sequel connects two logically progressing scenes. You might be able to eliminate the sequel completely and just let the two scenes butt up against each other.
  2. Check for places where maybe you don't need an introspective sequel, but maybe just a "Three hours later...."  or "In Chicago, at the downtown Hilton...." Short, sweet, to the point and a lightning-fast transition to the next scene. 
  3. *WARNING* Don't use the same kind of transition twice in a row.
  4. If you find yourself with a really long introspective sequel, ask yourself if everything is necessary. Does your character really have to recount everything we just experienced over the last ten pages.... *yawn* Sometimes it works! But a lot of time it just pulls the parking break on the pace of your WIP.
  5. Did you summarize a scene into a sequel that could have been really exciting if you'd written it out? Go back and write it in to help build more momentum.
  6. Look at all your scenes and decide if there's anything extra you can add to raise the stakes.
  7. Check your timing. Maybe you gave your hero too long to react to the disaster. Perhaps you can move up the timeline and create new action right away.

Pacing is usually a constant worry for most writers. If your problem isn't slow pace, just do the opposite of the above tips -add sequels, lengthen sequels, cut down scenes, or eliminate them and summarize into a sequel, give your character breathing room, lengthen timeline...etc.

" my experience of teaching fiction technique in the university classroom for more than two decades, novice novels that fail because they move too slowly outnumber those that move too fast by a margin of about 10 to 1." - SCENE AND STRUCTURE 
Jack goes further and explains what he considers the most obvious reasons.
1) Many beginning writers unconsciously shy away from presenting conflict just as they shy away from conflict in real life. Few of us like the emotional discomfort of a nasty fight in real life, and there is a danger that we might try to dodge conflict in our fiction, too, for the sake of "comfort."
2) Many beginners focus on the interior life of the character's thoughts or feelings, failing to understand the reader's yearning for outside action of some kind, played onstage in the story "now."
3) Most beginners start out with little concept of how many plot events (scenes) it takes to construct a story of 60K or more and then try to up the word count by padding it with sequels.
4) Writing scen conflict is hard, both in terms of handling the terse writing style involved and in terms of the emotional fatigue such writing brings upon its creator.
5) Too many beginners want to be "poetic" or "philosophical," so they write overblown sequels to wax rhapsodic about character emotion, or bombard us with their profound ideas.

Happy Writing
Happy Reading
Krystal Shannan


1 comment:

  1. I know how you feel Krystal. I sat in staff dev all last week. School started Monday. These are some great tips. Im going to be looking to see if I have any of these when I edit my WIP.