Use a Favorite Read for Help with Pacing

I once had a serious pacing problem. I was rejected at least ten million times because the pace was too slow. I info dumped, or got caught up in the words and forgot there was a story going on. I was sad. Bummed. Desperate. And like a good and eager student, I jumped back in, with those rejections in mind and I over corrected. The, I was rejected some more – this time because the story raced along too quickly, forgoing the little details that enriched a good tale. It was a very frustrating time for me. Then, I got an idea. I went to my bookshelf and pulled a book down that did extremely well in sales and was similar to my story in genre, tone, etc, something. And I reread the book looking only at pacing.

I opened a word doc or got out a notebook and pen, I can’t remember exactly, but I made headers: Chapter One….Chapter Two etc

As I read, I made notes under each chapter heading. In chapter one, for example, we met the hero, heroine, got details about the setting and enough hints about the conflict to send me hungrily into chapter two. I did the same thing for each chapter, noting major scenes, tones, where the conflicts, resolutions and new conflicts arrived, and when I began to outline my new project, I used the notes I’d taken as a guide to keep my pacing in line.

I can’t stress enough that I didn’t do this to copy the story idea. I didn’t plagiarize in any way. (Plagiarism is a HUGE buzz word/ hot topic right now and everyone jumps to that conclusion WAY too often. So Stop It.) What I suggested is you read to learn. The way we read to pick up new turns of phrase or get inspiration for a twist on something old, your favorite books are wonderful text books and quite useful for teaching us proper pacing too.

Soon, you’ll internalize the information and no longer need a guide. Remember, we always have more to learn from what we read. Think of the other ways our favorite stories can benefit our writing life and go for it.

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