Saturday, December 19, 2009


While being interviewed the other day over at Just Me & You, I was asked what I thought made a good story. I said well-developed characters and great emotion. Since then, I've been thinking, and have to add pacing to my list.

While we all agree that conflict is the heart of every good novel, we must also agree that without great pacing the reader will swiftly lose interest. The story can seem to drag and become boring.

It's all about rhythm. The peaks and valleys, speed it up, slow it down. Don't let you story follow one monotonous pattern. Even the way you break up your paragraphs adds to the rhythm and flow. Mix short, snappy sentences with longer complex one.

I like to think my novels are pacy. How do I achieve this? I stick to the point. Never settle in for long descriptive sentences, and I'll always aim to keep back story to very snappy sentences throughout the story.

How to slow your pace: Lengthy descriptions detailing environment, setting, back story, memories; flashbacks; Getting bogged down with tiny details; Lots of tags--especially the dreaded speech tags!

These are good ways to give readers a breather, but don't drone on until you put them to sleep.

How to speed up your pace: Snappy, rapid-fire dialogue; Precise action tags; Snippets of memories, setting etc; Stick to the point of the scene. Keep action/speech as significant as possible; Increase urgency; Make your reader want to find out what will happen next by hooking them with pieces of information. Never give away everything at once; Rein in flashbacks.

Mixing these two methods together will give your story ebb and flow, peaks and valleys, and balance your book. As well as high tension scenes that keep your reader on the edge of her seat, you have to give her a quick breather in between scenes. You can do this using sequel scenes.

And don't forget to fill each page with tension (whether that's sexual tension or suspense, or both) and emotion.

Until next time,
God bless.
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  1. Hey Monique : )
    Oh, what a lovely post. Thank you!!! Such great advice and you delivered it so eloquently. Definitely points to keep in mind.
    And hey, congrats on knocking at the top ten at TWRP – Fictionwise. Way to go!

  2. ***

    Wow! That was a quick climb! Thanks for telling me. At least one of us is keeping an eye on the ball :). You do realise I'll probably be checking the stats every few seconds from now on?

    Did I say I was getting a MS ready for HM&B, and starting a new story soon? Hmm...might take a while now I have a brand new interest lol.

    Thanks for stopping by, hon. Don't be a stranger, now, ya hear?



  3. Mon, another very helpful post from you. Your writing tips are so handy. Yes, pace is important to a good story. I've learnt from you to keep landscapes just where they belong - in a travel blog. Well, most of the time... ;-)

    Always great to read your blog posts. Best of luck with the sales of DE.

    Hugs, Steph xxx

  4. I think that pacing is seriously important to a story. I'm glad you are adding it to your list. Pacing, in my mind, can make or break a story.
    thanks for blogging.

    April Dawn

  5. Monique speech tags are the I'm learning. Thanks for all the advice you post it helps so much with my writing.

  6. A great post, Monique, with some very useful tips. Congrats on making TWRP's top 10!

  7. ~*~

    Thanks for dropping by, girls.


  8. Bravo, Monique! I couldn't have said it better. You are exactly right!


  9. I'm still working on learning how to do this better. I tend to be long-winded, and that doesn't work in an action scene. :)

  10. ***

    Phyllis ~ Hi, hon. How busy have you been this year?! :)

    Chicki ~ You are a fab writer. I hope the tips help. :)

    Thanks for dropping by.




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