How many of you noticed your surroundings last week when you were late to work? Did you stop to smell the roses after a fight with your spouse? In the middle of a heated debate, do you pause to consider your words and actions, or do you say whatever pops into your head.
Maybe some of you can answer yes to these questions, but not me. And if I don’t do these things, why should all of my characters? There’s a time for deep thoughts and elaborate descriptions – just don’t let it interrupt your flow.
P is for Pacing
A while ago I read a book where the hero and heroine were arguing. After every sentence of dialogue, there was at least one sentence of reflection (sometimes more). What should have been a quick exchange of ideas covered almost two pages of paper. The tempo was off.
Another book showed a woman rushing off to work. She noticed the buildings, people, and unseasonal weather for that time of year. Lucky her. When I’m in a hurry I’m lucky if I notice when the car ahead of me hits the brakes.
Our stories need to have captivating settings that pull in the reader. We need to have unique characters that make people want to learn more about them. What we can’t do, however, is interrupt the story for the sake of describing these people, places, or things.
Let your writing reflect what’s happening in the story. Hurried people have hurried thoughts. A lazy person probably won’t finish… Someone at ease will take the time to admire the new shutters on the old church and wonder who installed them (and how much they charged).
Consider the pace at which you and other people move/talk/interact. Reflect that in your writing. Don’t tempt the reader to skip over your descriptions because they’re poorly placed – find the tempo of your story and you’ll know where to put them.
QUESTION: What are some things that you’ve read that have taken you out of the tempo of a story? How can we fix them?