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Finally started to write book, struggling with pacing.

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Swordfry, Aug 28, 2015.

  1. Swordfry

    Swordfry Troubadour

    I finally started to actually write my book, and I have already hit one big obstacle: pacing. I have only written out the intro scene, which is about seven double spaced pages long, and I just can't help but feel like it's forced somehow, just awkward.

    Does anyone have any tips for pacing for beginners? I have a full detailed outline written out for my whole trilogy I am going to write.

    I think one small thing I can change is the line spacing on my Word from double to just normal. I read that manuscripts need to be double spaced, but I think single spaced puts my writing mind at ease more because that's more how it will look like in an actual book so it can help me with pacing more visually. Is anyone else like this?

    Also, while I'm at it: Does anyone know of any good articles, books, whatever on how to structure chapters in a book? Like when to know to end a paragraph, when to end a chapter, when to switch over to another pov character and if so then in the same chapter or a separate one?

    I can tell already I'm going to have to rely heavily on uploading sample chapters to these forums for critique, lol, but that's okay.
  2. I am of two minds here. Your subconscious is either telling you that there's something critically wrong with your story and it must be revised ASAP or you're letting your inner editor out of his cage before its time for him to feed. For now, though I say write. Mark your misgiving down but continue to write your first draft. Push through this feeling and just go forward. Either you'll figure out what the problem is or realize your inner editor was too impatient. Go forward and write, lock the editor away for now.
    Swordfry likes this.
  3. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

    I think plotting and pacing are some of the most difficult things to figure out. I had been writing about ten years or so before I finally decided "Screw it, I'm not ready to do long novels yet." I also realized that writing epic fantasy just isn't for me. Sometimes it can be exciting to start a new project, but you may not have all the tools needed to launch it. I'm not trying to discourage you because it's awesome you're going forward with your novel, but I would highly finding some necessary tools to help you along.

    My suggestions:

    1. Pre-writing. This is writing before you write and it can help a lot with knowing exactly what scene you're going to do, how the scene will turn out, etc. This might reduce the amount of superfluous or awkward writing because you're very focused on the current scene only and how it works for your overall story.

    2. Scene/Sequel Technique: I highly recommend this for anyone starting out. It can seem like "paint by numbers" writing, but there are loads of good reasons to try to use this. You can find great information about this from a variety of places.

    Techniques of a Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain was the first person that popularized this method.

    You can also look up Jim Butcher's Live Journal Posts on the process (which I think are more helpful because the language is simpler)

    SCENES: jimbutcher

    SEQUELS: jimbutcher

    Tons of great information here as well about crafting scenes: Writing The Perfect Scene: Advanced Fiction Writing Tips

    You can just try it out and see if this helps you get more focus on what you're trying to accomplish with each scene.

    3. Find some good, critical critique partners: You don't want "back-patters" or anyone that's going to tell you you're great. You do want someone to point out WHAT you're doing great, but not only "I loved this. Can't wait for more." That's not that helpful. On the other hand, "This is awful and you need to do this, this, and this" isn't much help either. A good critique partner will point out the good points and the faults, but do it in a way that's helpful. Sure, some people like harsher styles, but that's up to what you're ready for.

    4. Try not to put your own critical hat on: This is something a lot of people argue about. Some work better editing as they go, others better pumping out a first draft. It sounds like you may be the former. If you feel the need to edit as you go, go for it. But I'd highly suggest for a first novel, to just get it down. Once it's down, then you can learn a lot more from it. If you keep stalling at the first couple of chapters, you're not going to learn as much and be tempted to start over. I've personally learned more from failing to write novels than I ever did completing them. Completing them obviously feels great, but sometimes you have to crawl before you walk.

    5. Ask questions: This is a great forum for beginning writers because you get a lot of people who are happy to help you along your way. Join Facebook groups, forums, and any place that you think can keep you focused and motivated. Avoid places that may distract you or discourage you.

    As far as pacing/plotting, I've heard good things about these books:

    Rock Your Plot by Cathy Yardley
    How To Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson
    Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland
    Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy (sounds like it might not be a good book, but it's pretty awesome)

    These are just some suggestions and of course aren't the written gospel. It's worth trying out because I wish I would have known about some of these tools when I first started out.
    Swordfry likes this.
  4. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

    For pacing you need to decide if your story is more about the journey, the destination or both equally. What I mean is if your characters need to travel to a different city to have a battle, would you want the journey to the new location to have character and plot development. This would require the journey to have one or more chapters. Or would you skip over most of the journey (what I call Law & Order style) and get to the battle quickly and have more time spent on the battle tan it took to get there. Either way is fine to use, the key I to be consistent in your story. You want to maintain the same feel in terms of progression throughout the story.

    Another thing to consider for pacing is tension. Creating tension in a story is pivotal to having excitement, mystery and intrigue. What is equally important is providing the reader a suitable decline in the tension. You need to give the audience some relief during the story. You cannot constantly increase the tension or suspense or passion. Think of it like a rollercoaster- A ride that goes up one huge hill then down and ends is not as much fun as one the has several rises and falls. The rises should not all be the same and neither should all of the falls. Watch this interview of director Alfred Hitchcock with Dick Cavett to hear from a true master.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2017
    Swordfry likes this.
  5. Androxine Vortex

    Androxine Vortex Archmage

    Pacing is a monumental issue for me. What i found that helped was write and plan everything out ahead of time, don't just write as you go. For instance, i want to go from plot point A to B so i would write that down. Now what are main points of in between? I would write down points A1 A2 and A3. Now in specific detail, how would those things connect? I would do this all the way to character movements and dialogue.

    With this blueprint i felt like i had structure when i wrote and not feeling on the spot and unprepared. Same with construction. You don't just make a building as you go, you sit down before you start and figure out what is exactly going to happen. This way when I do sit down and write, instead of worrying what should happen next i am focusing on how can i make this read easier?
  6. Helen

    Helen Inkling

    You can use hero's journey.

    So, like,

    First chapter is Ordinary World.

    Second chapter gets you into the New World. Involves a mentor.

    And so on.

    Harry Potter kinda does this.
  7. Russ

    Russ Istar

    For these kind of issues I would highly recommend Steven James' book, Story Trumps Structure.
  8. FarmerBrown

    FarmerBrown Troubadour

    It took me a long time to figure out my most productive way to write. Sounds like you're getting distracted by your formatting, which isn't something you should be worrying about for a looooong time. If double-spaced bothers you, switch it. If TNR or Courier bother you, switch it. Find the least distracting set up for yourself RIGHT NOW. If you're tempted to edit while writing, go full-screen to get rid of those options (Scrivener is a great program for going fullscreen) or try Write or Die. You have an outline, so you can either plow through and just write, or what I like to do is jump around and cross things off as I go. I think the important thing is to get it on the page first and foremost, than slash or expand later. Otherwise, all the advice above is golden.
  9. HylianShield

    HylianShield Acolyte

    Here's what I do: I have my idea for the scene. I write the scene with just whatever I have in my mind. It's barebones, skeletal, and passable at best. Once I'm finished getting my idea out, I go back and start adding details, depth, tension, observation, introspection if necessary. I make the combat more descriptive and intense; instead of someone being knocked into a wall, they are smashed into it with such force that their vision blurs and their bones rattle or they taste blood because they've bit their tongue open. I make the witty banter more personal, descriptive scenes more interactive, and suspenseful scenes more tense.

    Every scene you write will need to be polished. It's good to just get your ideas out, and when you're done and everything forgettable is on paper, THEN go back and start making it amazing. You may end up doing this multiple times, deciding that a certain line is too corny and cutting it out, adding a sarcastic jab at the protagonist from a supporting character to avoid getting lost in the intensity of a life-or-death situation... it will not be perfect the first time you write it. You may end up chopping up the entire first scene into chapters. As Shia LeBoeuf would say, JUST. DO IT!

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