Ten Tips For Creating the Perfect Pace in Your Novel

marathon_mouse_spot-2Sometimes as writers, it’s hard to create the perfect pace in our stories.  I attended a writing workshop recently and learned a few things about pacing. Here’s what I walked away with.

  1. Impose a deadline. Your characters must have an urgency and a time constraint to accomplish their task. Give them a timeframe.
  2. Up the ante. Make the task harder, danger greater, or stakes higher. Challenge your character, create tension and throw things at them that get in the way.
  3. Create a mystery. Leave open questions. Create doubt and uncertainty. Why was he here? What was he doing with that person?
  4. Swap point of view. Change the voice. Alter from heavy to humorous.
  5. Leave white space. Keep paragraphs short. Vary sentence length. Create chunks.
  6. Create an unsettled feeling. End chapters by leaving readers on edge.  Make them want to know what’s going to happen next.
  7. Interlock episodes. Every scene connects to the other. Dive into important stuff and make each scene action or emotion related. Description and action must flow. Don’t write a scene readers will skip. If it’s not important, don’t include it.
  8. Introspection. Put your reader into the thick of your character’s emotions. Climb inside the character’s head and pull the reader in with you.
  9. Punctuation power. Make punctuation pull the flow of the story.  Dashes quicken the pace, semicolons slow the reader down.
  10. Ignore the noise. Make the writing yours and be your own voice. Don’t compare yourself to others. Be true to your own stories.
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