Monday, July 9, 2012

Moving the Story Along- or for Short, Pacing

  All right, as you can see from the title up there today's topic is about keeping a fast pace, or moving the story along.

  So, how does one do this kind of thing? First off, you need a good and steady plot. The plot is the thing that drives the story, it's the very essence of what your book is about. It's the thing that brings conflict and the thing that makes your reader hungering for more. Without a good plot your basic story would look like this:
  Once upon a time there lived a little girl. The end.
  Ok... what did that have to do with anything?

  Absolutely nothing. 

  There was no story, no conflict, no hero saves the day, no meaning. Nada. 

  Now, if you want an example of a story with an amazing plot take  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I know you've probably all read it, so bear with me when I explain this.

  She has the perfect set up, immediately describing what life is like in District 12 and she doesn't waste time by delving right in to the story by having Katniss volunteer as tribute in the first chapter. The story continues with fast pace and there's no lagging. There's a perfect amount of conflict that evens itself out as the story continues, and then leaves you hungering for more when the story's over. 

  Make sure your plot is tight and you know what's going to happen next. Writing is all about looking ahead. To move the story along you must have some plan for how things are going to work out. That's why plot plays such a big part in the pacing.

  Once you know your plot, roll with it! Here's where the major part of pacing comes along. You have to make sure your explaining the plot evenly with no lagging. That means no side stories! The events in a book should all help move the story along. If it doesn't, then cut it.
  Oh, but, Johny and Susan are my favorite couple in my book! I should write another love scene between them and add it somewhere. 

  No, you don't. If you already have it set up that Johny and Susan are together don't add unnecessary love scenes. The same goes for everything else. Don't just write little day to day things the character does. Don't write a whole chapter about how Susan did her laundry. That's boring. Now if Susan was doing her laundry when BOOM, the phone rings and it's Johny calling about he wants to break up with her, then yes, add that, it moves the story along. Even if it is heart breaking. 

  Also, don't add unnecessary long descriptions. That's how you lose readers and it keeps the pace of the story down.
  But the trees looked so beautiful that day. Their leaves seemed to shimmer under the bright summer sun. They danced with the wind and shimmied through the air. Green blurs filled the sky as the leaves fluttered down and.... 

  No! You start to lose people. I bet I lost half of you in that little description of the trees leaves.

  I know some of you will protest when I bring up the next thing that helps the pacing. 

  Having an outline. 

  If you have an outline of the story you'll know what you need to write, and you won't write yourself in to corners, where you don't know what happens next. That also leaves people uninterested. I've done that before... and that's where disasters come in to play. 

  Trust me, outlines are very useful and they keep you one your toes. I could go on and on about them, but I'll save them for another blog post.

  So, that's the insiders edition to pacing. I hope it'll help you move your story along without all those sappy Johny Susan moments.

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