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.

19 Self-editing Tips

If you’re in that editing stage and looking for some tips, this is helpful.

Help! Help!

Now that I’ve published my first novel, To Hunt a Sub, I can say from experience that writing it and editing it took equally long periods of time (and marketing is just as involved). After finishing the final rough draft (yeah, sure) and before emailing it to an editor, I wanted it as clean possible. I searched through a wide collection of self-editing books like these:

The Novel Writer’s Toolkit by Bob Mayer

Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne

The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing by Evan Marshall

…and came up with a list of fixes that I felt would not only clean up grammar and editing, but the voice and pacing that seemed to bog my story down. Here are ideas you might like:

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Stephen King’s On Writing is one of the best books out there on the craft of writing.   If you are a writer and don’t own it, it is well worth the investment.

Written by Millionaire’s Digest Staff Member: Amber M. Founder & Owner of: A Not So Jaded Life Millionaire’s Digest Staff Team, Author, Successful Living and Writing Writer 1. “Put your d…


Dan Ellis Crime Fiction: Why Your Character Might Commit a Crime – What Can Social Science Tell Us?

I current have an adult crime novel in progress, so this was quite informative.

Writers Unite!

“He was slouched in a worn armchair positioned in the centre of a cluttered dingy living room. The amber streetlight permeated through the yellowed net curtains. The flicker of the TV screen gently illuminated his motionless face. A burnt out cigarette was wedged between his bloody fingers, and his other hand gripped an empty bottle of scotch. For hours he hadn’t moved, contemplating what he had just done.”

If you write crime fiction, there is no doubt you’ve had a character in a similar scenario to this. They have just committed a crime, attacked someone, killed someone perhaps? The reasons why they may have done this are probably tied into specific events in the character’s life or their personality. Or maybe the plot is to blame – the treacherous conditions you have forced them to go through?

But if you are looking to base the characters’ actions in reality. To…

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Four Writing Lessons from Stephen King

Some useful writing advice.

Pema Donyo

2-3pm - Friday - January 11, 2016www.flatdesign101.com-webinar (1)

I finally had the chance to read On Writing by Stephen King and I highly recommend it. King’s memoir has plenty of hilarious anecdotes from his life, and his book is also full of wisdom about the craft. I pieced together four points which stuck with me in particular:

  1. “If you write … someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that’s all.” King feels he wasted time being “ashamed” of what he wrote, and he thinks this feeling happens to many writers. Bottom line: write what you want. There will always be people out there who try to convince you to write about a different topic, but they’re not the ones writing the story. You are.
  2. “The job boils down to two things: paying attention to how the real people around you behave and then telling the truth about what you see.” Tell the truth – whether it’s…

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Cultivate Your Passion

cultivate passion

I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t write.  It’s something I’ve always done, something I’ve always been passionate about.  From the time I was old enough to hold a pencil, I was writing.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the old sayings,”pursue your passion” or “follow your dreams.”  Both of these statements are true, to a point. It’s great if we can pursue our passions and follow our dreams, but we have to be careful with how we interpret these phrases.

Steve Jobs said, You’ve got to find what you love…the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” The key here is work.  Just because someone loves to write doesn’t mean they should quit their day job and pursue a fulltime writing career.  Pursuing your passion requires work.  No matter how passionate you are about something, no one is going to care about it simply because you do. In fact, most people won’t care at all.  You have to make them care, which means you must work hard and cultivate your skills to show them you are passionate about it.

passion isn't found

To follow your passion implies you’ve discovered it. To cultivate your passion means you work toward building it. I love to write, and those of you who are writers, I’m sure, are right there with me.  But the only way I can follow this dream is to work hard and strive for improvement.  No one is a bestselling author overnight, and few writers are successful the first time they write something.  Most writer’s first attempts are full of rejection letters, negative feedback, and constant self-doubt. I’m not any different. Now I could give up my dream of being a writer at this point, or I could work hard to improve my skills. My passion for writing drives me to succeed, therefore I’ll push myself to improve.  I’ll cultivate my passion.

I can’t just expect people to love my work and praise what I do simply because it’s my passion. If I want to be successful, I need to work hard to make it happen.  Too many people go through life thinking they will instantly be successful at something simply because it’s what they love to do. I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but this is not the case. A young woman may want to be a doctor and may be passionate about the medical field, but if she’s not willing to learn necessary skills and work hard to improve them, the concept of “following her dream” and “pursuing  her passion” will never happen.  Dreams don’t just come true.  You have to make them come true.

sticky noteLet’s go back to the Steve Jobs’ quote for a moment. Yes, you do have to like what you do to do great work. Obviously if you don’t like what you’re doing, you’re not going to work as hard to do well. But if you’re passionate about it, you’ll work your tail off to make sure you’re doing a good job. I’ll use my day job of teaching as an example. You can tell the minute you walk into a teacher’s classroom whether or not they love teaching and are dedicated to making a career out of it or are only there until another opportunity presents itself.  Teachers who are passionate about teaching put in extra hours, spend weekends writing lesson plans and grading papers, are involved in after school activities and committees to better not only themselves, but the entire school.  They go the extra mile.  They are energetic and work hard to help students meet their goals.  But they are working, that’s the key.  They attend conferences and meetings and training session to improve their skills as teachers so they can do an even better job.  They cultivate their passion.

As writers, we must do the same.

“Real writers don’t write for recognition. They don’t do it for fame, accolades, or notoriety. They do it because they cannot not write.” -Jeff Goins, The Writer’s Manifesto

Jeff Goins also said, “Real writers do not need inspiration or an audience to begin…They write for the love of writing.” 

And for me, this is true.  I write simply because I love to write. But if I want to gain an audience, sell books, and receive accolades, I must earn them by cultivating my passion for writing.  This means I put forth the effort and develop the necessary skills to make that dream come true. By all means, do what you love. Follow your dream. But you must  work hard to improve your skills and cultivate your passion to make it happen.