Monday, March 16, 2015

Polishing a Book, Part II - Pacing

Something else I look at when I'm polishing a book prior to submission is pacing.  If I'm reading along and find myself less than engaged, thinking I should skip over a part or go make a cup of tea, that is a big red flag.  It means that part is -- horror of horrors! -- boring.  Or to put it another way, too slow.

That is Really Not Good.   I have some thinking to do, and then some revising.

Often a boring part comes when I'm trying to get from Point A to Point B in the plot and I haven't figured out the best way. Sometimes I realize I don't have to explain or describe that transition at all.  I can say, "Three days later" and just get on with the story.

Sometimes I'm repeating previous information.  This can be a tricky call, because let's face it, readers don't always, or even often, read a book in one sitting.  Details can be forgotten.  So I won't say  never repeat anything.  I'll just say be careful how many times, and in how much detail.

Sometimes something I've discovered in my research that I find really fascinating can bog down the story.  Readers want to hear about the characters more than, say, financial transactions in the Middle Ages.  Again, it's a judgment call, but if I find myself wanting to skip ahead, that means I've got too much unnecessary information.

Some people write really fast-paced, non-stop-action books.  Some people write a much more leisurely paced story, and others something in between.  There's no right or wrong when it comes to overall pacing; that's part of an author's voice.   

But whatever your particular pace, you don't want to let the reader to hit a spot where s/he thinks it's time to take a break.

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