Monday, December 22, 2008

Follow That Taxi

Today I'm going to write an overview about pacing.

Pacing is what makes your reader turn the page.

It can also apply to other areas of construction. And these also make your reader turn the page. You pace how you reveal information about your characters. In the beginning, you give the reader just enough informtion for them to have questions. Then you feed them more as the story develops. You pace how you provide information about setting and plot in the same way. Start small and build in modest increments.

Pacing is all about building suspense and tension in the entire story. There are a number of ways to do this without resorting to trickery or over-the-top Perils of Pauline chapter endings.

Think about every word. Put the strongest part of each sentence at the end. Build each pargraph to a strong conclusion. End each chapter with a hook or a question in the reader's mind. Build conflict and tension with each chapter.

But don't forget peaks and valleys. It's important to give the reader time to catch her breath, but not too much time. One way to accent the peaks is to play with time. You can slow it down by having the protagonist become of aware of sensory details. You can speed it up by using short sentences and punchy action. Valleys can be short periods of reflection.

This overview has been brought to you by a frazzled writer, three days before Christmas, when everybody and my dog, is wanting a piece of me!

Questions? Comments?

1 comment:

Kevin R. Tipple said...

One needs to be careful of that hook at the end of each chapter. Yes, you want to keep readers turning the pages. But, you don't want to do something cliched that makes readers laugh. Or reviewers choke from laughing so hard they hurt.

Kevin