Blog by VONNIE DAVIS -- International, Award-Winning Romance Author: Adventurous...Humorous...Amorous.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wednesday Writerly Wisdom

During a phone call, my editor at Loveswept told me she wished I'd teach a seminar on pacing. I laughed. Teach a seminar to whom? Cats lined up on a sofa? I mean, what do I know about pacing? Well, as a mother of 3, I will admit to pacing the floor until the kids got home during those teenaged years, but I don't think that's what she had in mind.

Pacing is continually moving the story forward and not getting bogged down in the woe-is-me emotional repetition of romances of years ago. You know the type. In fact, many still exist. Some writers get so into the sharing of emotions, the rehashing of past feelings, the angst of "gee, I feel this way, but I really shouldn't" that--although their prose is lovely--it's dragged on for two or more pages and the story's pacing  has come to a screeching halt.

Meanwhile the reader is thinking make something happen!!!

There must be a blend of dialog, action, character's inner thought or narration, character's reactions, and inner dialog. I'm sure there's a formula somewhere. But I'm individualistic enough to think we all use our own blend. The difficult task is finding that perfect blend that our readers want.

I'm strong on dialog and reactions. In fact, I usually write that first. One person says something and another reacts. This is my first step in crafting a scene. Then I add in movement, both large and small. Walking across a room, for example. Pouring a drink and sipping from the cup or glass.

I add those all-important signature movements for a character. We've all got little physical habits we do when we're talking or thinking something over. Right? Cracking our knuckles...pushing our glasses up if we wear them...fiddling with our hair...pinching the bridge of our nose...staring off. Small movements like this make the flat character more dimensional, because we're giving them typical human traits. Traits the reader might see in themselves, smile, nod, and think gee, I do the same thing. And that magic connection is made between the reader and the fictional character.

I add in narration and/or internal thoughts. While I strive for deeper emotion, I do this through word choice not by several paragraphs of character self-examination or recollections. These paragraphs are hardest for me to write. And they get written and rewritten many, many times until I can show and express whatever the emotion is in roughly four paragraphs.

I'm slowly learning to remember to include the physical reactions to narrative, too. The skin crawling, the heartbeat hammering in the ears, the mouth suddenly gone dry. So to make this part powerful, I might spend a couple days on this tiny section. Days spent consuming mass quantities of coffee and chocolate.

Because, here's the thing...when you stop the action, the moving forward of your story to tell the reader how the character is feeling or struggling, your story STOPS!

It's not going anywhere.

But your reader might.

Keep the pace moving or you're going to lose your reader's interest. And they might not give you the chance to get it back.


Liz Flaherty said...

Great post, Vonnie. My editor mentions pacing so often (and my lack of it) that I think I can see his head shaking every time he says the word.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Oh Liz, mine accuses me of being plot-heavy. She'll have me redo large sections to simplify the plotline. I think we all have our weaknesses. The editor's job is to point them out to us. Our job is to try our best to work to improve. No one writes a perfect book. At least not this ol' bird.

Angela Adams said...

I think you'd be an asset as an instructor. But, where you would find the time is another story. By the way, how's that adorable new baby?

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Little Ben feels nighttime is for rocking and walking the floor, certainly NOT for sleeping. LOL