My main difficulty when I switched from writing plays to novels was my use of pauses. It took me a long time to figure out that the time sense of a person conversing in real life or watching a play is very different from the time sense of someone reading prose. And that has repercussions in novel writing and the use of punctuation.
What’s Happening in Life?
In plays, movies and the reality they are imitating, a pause happens because something else is going on. Someone is thinking, reacting, showing emotion, waiting for attention or performing some task. Often the pause is used to heighten the emotion while we wait for something important to happen (see ‘Earned Pauses’ at the end of this article). Continue reading “In Writing, How Long is a Pause?”
This should be called “Mistakes I Made That You Shouldn’t” series. Once more, you lucky people are going to will get the benefit of my lengthy writing experience. As in, lengthy writing is the problem. In other words, I’m editing a novel I wrote several years ago and cutting out all the junk I have since learned not to put in. If some of you are now where I was then, these examples could be of use in tuning help tighten up your own language. Let’s see how many words we can save if we are firm with ourselves. Continue reading “Writing Tip: Trim Your Language”
Pacing in writing is essential. It can make a story or break it. Good pacing can tune a good story into a masterpiece, or bad pacing can reduce it to caterwauls.
Some months back, I read a new book by an author I like. I expected good things. Unfortunately, the pacing of the story left me frustrated and just anxious to get the durn thing over with. The protagonist, an investigator, was frequently approached by a mystery woman who may have had information he needed. The meetings usually consisted of her appearing suddenly, saying she needed to tell him something, then leading him to a small café or down a deserted alley. She spoke cryptically; he asked questions which she danced around, they both became angry and she rushed off. Over and over.
The author may have thought the emotionally-fraught meetings were adding tension to the story, but they added little else. They added no additional information. They did not move the story forward. Their only purpose, that I could see, was to frustrate me and make me less inclined to care if I finished the book or not. Continue reading “Pacing…in Writing…Is…Everything”
We have covered a lot of the technical aspects of writing. All of those are important. You want your manuscript to be well-edited and as error-free as possible. You want a nice cover, because you never get a second chance to make a first impression. You need a nice cover blurb that will hook the reader and invite further exploration.
Problems in any of those areas can cause a reader to hate your book. Good storycraft is the one thing that can cause a reader to love your book in spite of problems in those other areas. You can actually see evidence of this in reviews. You do not see reviews that call the author’s sparse use of the semicolon and deft application of commas breathtaking. The cover might sell a book, but it is rarely the subject of a line in a review. A good book is nothing more than a good story well-told. That is storycraft.
I break storycraft into seven elements: Authenticity, Authority, Continuity, Character Growth, Foreshadowing, Pacing, and Resolution. Continue reading “Storycraft 101”