Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wicked Wednesday - the fast-paced novel

What is the key to making your readers not want to put down your book? Pacing. Sometimes it's hard to pinpoint what it is about a book that makes you dislike it. The characters might be intriguing and the plot might be fantastic, but most of the time, the culprit is pacing. It comes naturally to some writers, but for most of us, we have to work at it and keep revising until we get it right.

Many paranormal romances are fast-paced novels. They keep hitting you with one thing after another, keeping the reader on a supernatural thrill ride. A fast pace heightens suspense, mystery, and romantic tension. Your story must pose questions. Some are answered lightning fast and bring up new questions while others are answered more slowly to draw out the intrigue. You must always have the reader wondering and wanting more.

As I've mentioned before on Wicked Wednesday, emotion is key to a good paranormal romance. Not only do you need plot questions to propel it forward, you need character questions. You need characters your readers can relate to, but also ones that are different enough to make your readers think. Plot drives the external pace while characters push the internal pace. The trick is to combine the two in a leapfrogging pattern: plot question leads to character question, plot answer leads to character answer bringing up more questions.

Here are a few tips to pick up the pace of your novel:
- Use shorter sentences and paragraphs.
- Incorporate more action.
- Create more conflict.
- Give your characters various goals and motivations.
- Cut back on internal dialogue and backstory.
- Eliminate scenes that don't advance the plot.

Yet always remember a good novel needs fast and slow scenes. Ups and downs. Too much action can diminish a reader's emotional experience. You don't want to exhaust your reader by going too fast. Pacing may seem like a simple thing, but if you can master it, it's a powerful tool.

There's only one more day to enter to win Cherie Reich's giveaway. Just leave a comment on Thursday's guest post. Cherie talks about running a book blog tour and offers some great advice.

38 comments:

  1. Nice post! This also just reminded me it's Wednesday so I need to bring my camera to school :P

    Cheers!

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    1. Glad I could remind you of that. I think I might not know what day of it the week it was if it wasn't for Blogger!

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  2. Great post. I find having loud, fast and heavy music playing always makes me write fast-paced scenes. All the things you've mentioned come naturally when the music is pulling me along with it. Then I change CD for the next, slower scene.

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    1. Thanks! That's cool it comes naturally to you when the music is playing.

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  3. Awesome post... pacing is so important and can easily skew off... Good points to keep in mind.

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    1. Thanks! I can get detoured by dialogue. Oh witty banter, why do you have to be so fun?!

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  4. This is great information. I agree that good characters are important but if it is too slow who cares about the characters.

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    1. Thanks. And your blog does help with characters. :)

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  5. Some great info! I love fast paced books. =)

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    1. Me too! It's a challenge to write them, though.

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  6. I'm great at writing fast scenes. It's the slower one's I struggle with. I tend to make them too fast. Oops!

    Great post!

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    1. Thanks! I'm getting better at writing fast scenes, but I always get slowed down by witty banter. It's my weakness!

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  7. Wonderful tips. I was told at a conference that with pacing, a writer should go down each page of their manuscript and ask "What did I learn here?" If the answer is nothing, then the pacing is off.

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    1. Oh, good tip. Thanks! I have been learning lots from Hooked. I'm almost done with it! :)

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  8. I would also add, ending your chapter or scene in the middle of action. That will leave your reader turning the page instead of setting down the book for the night

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  9. Great advice! Pacing is so crucial to a book!

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  10. You've made some great points. For me, a slow pace often gets boring and I'll often abandon a book if it doesn't hold my attention.

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    1. Thanks! Same for me. I use to read a lot of fantasy with long flowing descriptions, but I can't sit through them any more. I skip those parts.

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  11. You give some good advice! I'm currently working on improving the pacing of the book I'm editing. These are great things to keep in mind.

    I'm your newest follower, found your blog through a friend's. Nice to meet you! :)

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    1. Thank you and welcome. :) It's wonderful to meet you too.

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  12. Great post! Your advice is right on target.

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  13. I have a friend so naturally gifted at suspense, it makes me green. So, I started imitating her, then found a book. Yup, you can get better with practice. Great post, Christine.

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    1. Thanks! I'm jealous of the folk who make it look so easy too.

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  14. Pacing was definitely my problem. It wasn't until I ditched ubber long paragraphs that I finally figured it out. Balance is everything. :)

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    1. That it is! Sometimes I have to watch I don't go too fast these days.

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  15. I'm trying to figure out a back story problem right now. Great advice on pacing! I think it's an important thing to work at if it doesn't come naturally.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

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    1. Thanks! I'm working out some back story in my current WIP too. I recently read a book on beginnings called HOOKED by Les Edgerton. Excellent, excellent book, and it's helped me a lot with starting out and back story.

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    2. Oh, thanks! I will look for that one.

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  16. Great tips on pacing!

    It's something I have a lot of trouble with. Always seems like too much is happening, nothing is happening, or all the scenes pass at the same speed.

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    1. Thanks! I get detoured by dialogue. My characters tend to talk a lot!

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  17. This is something I struggle with in my longer works, not really knowing if I've got enough ups and downs in pacing... but I think (I hope?!) I'm getting it right in my shorter works.

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    1. Sometimes it's hard to get right even in shorter works. I'm getting better with short stories, but they can be tricky.

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  18. Wow, this is really good advice. I have a problem with eliminating backstory. I am working on it. I also need to add more action to some of my scenes.

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