Tuesday, January 26, 2016

5 Tips to Pacing Your Novel

I am always getting asked about how to keep the action going in a book so that the reader doesn't get bored, but no one wants to keep going full bore. Sooner or later every writer wants to slow things down, even just a little to give the reader a chance to take a breath.

Now that doesn't mean you want to let your book become boring. But you do want to check over your pacing to see that the story is still flowing even through the ups and downs.

Here are five tips that might help you make certain your book doesn't go too fast or too slow.

1. Start the story quickly.  That's a given. Just like you're heading off to work and running late, you want to get off to a quick start.  Introduce your characters and setting and set up the plot issue quickly or your readers are going to stop reading after the first chapter.

2. Introduce your characters and put them into action.  Make them do something. Give them a problem or two right away. But make them real so that your reader right away gets a feel for wanting to know more about this character and why he/she is taking a certain course of action.

3. Give them a personal stake in the problem.  Real people aren't going to care about strangers necessarily, unless they've either interacted with them or they have a personal stake in the issue.  If a woman runs over someone, she will probably worry about whether the person is going to be okay. But what if that person is watch that she knows she gave to her best friend and that friend hasn't been seen for a week.  Won't she be more interested in this person?

4.  Use emotion to keep the stakes rising even as the action slows. Once the story gets going, keep the action flowing, but also slow it down from time to time. As noted, we don't want to become breathless, but we don't want to fall asleep either. Emotional interaction can keep the flow moving up and down.

5.  Hold off on that back story and then use it in small doses. Don't put your character history in long chunks in the first chapter. That's a prescription for losing a reader almost immediately and they probably won't come back.  If you want to give some history, do it in small chunks and make certain it's necessary. 

Keep the pace moving and your book sales will keep moving too.

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