A week of warnings of full moons in line with Halloween, which I love but my focus has been on the World Series as my KC Royals compete. In the wake of Nano, I’m trying to divide my focus between baseball and my Nano prep. I’m not particularly successful at either. LOL Here’s my Nano work.
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy (I think)
Word Count: This a Nano novel and it sat at 53,000 words and then I began revisions so it sits at 66,000 now.
Story: A boy, a car, an old man, and a dog. Nothing will ever be the same for any of them.
Writing mysteries/thrillers requires a great deal of control. The writer must tightly plot so there are no loose ends, no gaping plot holes, and perfect pacing. While pacing is important to all prose, these genres, especially, require the writer’s astute handling of it.
These genres hinge upon raising questions in the mind of the reader. What has happened? Who is behind it? How bad is it? Will our hero recover? Will he or she find answers? The writer doesn’t want the reader inundated with questions on page one. They’ll feel overwhelmed and give up. Space questions out and allow them to build. As the protagonist moves through his crisis, the reader asks questions. The best pacing allows the reader to experience tension and anxiety but also allows moments of relaxation, time to seek answers without worrying the hero is facing immediate death.
These are not easy things to accomplish, but they are essential. A story that reveals too much too fast falls flat in the last half of the book. A story that reveals too little, loses the reader to confusion early on. The goal must always be to reveal enough to keep the reader reading on, but not too much or the reader is ahead of the plot. Check your story. Are you revealing things at a pace that is good for it? Good for the plot? Good for the characters? If not, do you need to speed up or slow down? Revise accordingly.
Other Articles on Pacing:
When writers gather, the talk always centers on our shared issues. We don’t sit around and talk about the joys of being in the zone or the love of a request from agents or even a personal rejection…well, okay, we do that, too. However, we home in on what is kicking our butts in our current WIP. What I keep noticing is a common thread: forward momentum or the lack of it. Several blogs I’ve read in the last week have discussed difficulties with a WIP not so much stagnating as moving without really moving forward.
I recommend Hooked by Les Edgerton. I know I talk about this book a lot but honestly, it has taught me a lot. For one thing, I’m well versed in the inciting incident of a story. I teach it to my students, can identify it in a story I’m reading, etc. I knew that it is what hooks your reader pulling them in . What I didn’t think about until I read the book was that each scene has an inciting incident of its own. An incident that will propel the scene and the plot forward, illuminating things for both your protagonist and your reader.
After so many years of reading and writing, it was so simple and I couldn’t believe I’d missed it. Now, when I’m working on a new scene or rewriting a scene that isn’t working, the first thing I ask myself, “What is the inciting event here? What propels this part of the story and my character forward?” In my big picture plotting, this small scene event planning got completely overlooked.
Exercise: Instead of a traditional outline of your novel, make an outline of the scenes in your book by inciting event. If you’ve done your job well, you should see an acceleration of events building to that perfectly planned denouement. Let me know how it goes. I’m off to try it with my adult mystery. 🙂
I’m heading back across the great state of Kansas after a marathon dental appointment yesterday. On the trip up, my characters regaled me with details of the new ending of my WIP. I’m excited to see what they want to tell me on the way home. I hope your writing is going well or if it’s rewriting that is hitting its stride. The point being that writing is involved in your day.
Have an amazing weekend.
Thanks to life complications on my end, I’ve decided to extend the deadline for submissions to February 1. If you haven’t submitted your first page, get it in soon!