Writers Tricks of the Trade VOLUME 8, ISSUE 4 - Page 9

pace. Not only that, it had an unsatisfying ending. It was pure torture. of action (movement), no matter what kind of story it is. BRISK PACING WHAT IS ACTION? Though I’m not big fan of James Pat- terson’s novels, mainly because he tends to write first-person most of the time, the one thing I like about him is that instead of writing scenes, he writes very short chapters. His novels might have 80 – 100 chapters or more. A side effect of this is that he also tends to avoid head-hopping because he’s able to contain the scenes to single characters when he does write third-person. This style makes for a fast-paced and easy read, especially if you read at com- mercials. My icky bug novel had 152 chapters and was a pure pleasure to read. Fast- paced, it was solid third-person and there was no room for head-hopping. I loved everything about it except the ending! You don’t have to write hundreds of short chapters to have fast pacing either. You can do it with multiple scenes, or even just relatively short paragraphs.  You can do it by not rambling.  You can do it by getting to the point.  You can do it by moving the story, even if every scene isn’t a chase scene. All you have to do is pace the story. By that, I mean give it a steady buildup to the climax. Make sure something is happen- ing in every scene. It doesn’t have to be thrills. Keep the genre in mind, of course. It has to be something significant to move the story along and it has to be some kind By action I don’t mean necessarily ac- tion/adventure as in the genre. I mean, the characters have to do something sig- nificant to move the story. That’s it. For- ward pacing. NOT backward pacing. Think about it. You have a story about two little old ladies getting ready for a quilting bee. They’re mild rivals. They get together to check out each other’s work. Now is not the time to go into a long diatribe about how they went for ice cream when they were nine years old. Okay, maybe a cou- ple of sentences, but not an entire chap- ter, right? Pacing. These two old ladies have an interplay where they examine each other’s work and mildly, or maybe harshly criticize each other’s work. Bla Bla Bla. Story movement. Conflict. Notice how I deliberately picked a genre I don’t write, just to illustrate my point. That was an action scene that moved the story forward, demonstrating their rivalry. W INTER 2019 WHAT IS NOT ACTION?      Overlong descriptions. Going off on a side story. Going off on a rant. Unrelated back story. Unrelated flashbacks (see back story). Every one of these things may have action in them by definition, but they’re P AGE 4 W RITERS ’ T RICKS OF THE T RADE