by Sandy Tritt
Pacing is tool writers have to control the speed in
which a story reads. Lush, descriptive segments slow the pace, giving the
readers a breather. Rapid-fire dialogue speeds the pace, leaving the
reader breathless. It is up to the writer to decide when the pace needs
quickened and when it should be put in slow gear.
Perhaps the easiest way to judge is to ask questions as
you read. Do you start drifting? You need action. Is the conversation or
action moving too quickly? You need narrative to even out the pacing. In
the tip sheet, Say it Once,
Say it Right, we discussed removing redundancies in our prose, and I
hinted that one of the reasons we add redundancy in the first place is to
slow the pace. But instead of repeating ourselves, we need to find new
things to say or new things to focus on. For example, during a highly
emotional scene that is moving too quickly, allow the character to study a
picture on the wall or watch children playing nearby. Or allow him to
remember a conversation from the past. Or focus on one of the other
senses, such as the smells or sounds in the background. This can add depth
and an emotional layer, as well as slowing the pace.
We can also slow the pace of a chapter or even the
entire manuscript by adding more description, more exposition (background
information) and more internal dialogue (character thoughts).
Likewise, to speed the pace, omit everything except for
the direct action or dialogue. Ignore descriptions, ignore reactions,
ignore anything other than the bare necessities.
Reading our prose aloud is perhaps the best way to judge
the pace. Listen as you read, and consider if the action is happening too
fast or not fast enough. And remember, there is never one right answer.
The pace of your story is just one more element that contributes to your
unique writing style. Experiment, study, write. But in the end, use your
(c) copyright 1999 by Sandy Tritt. All rights reserved,
except for those listed here. July be reproduced for educational purposes
(such as for writer's workshops), as long as this copyright notice and the
url: http://tritt.wirefire.com are distributed with the pages. For use in
conferences or other uses not mentioned here, please contact Sandy Tritt
for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.
- First ten pages free, and, for a limited time, all additional pages at
$2.75 per page (regular price, $3.50 per page). Just mention Publishing
New Writers Newsletter (July, 2002).
- Critiques by Sandy Tritt
- Unlike most editors, I consider my role to be a mentor or a coach.
Instead of just telling you what is wrong, I explain how to correct the
problem, and I work with you to teach you how to write effective prose.
More than 50% of my business is repeat business, and I relish
establishing long-term relationships with other writers.
- Treat you with respect and compassion. All criticism will be of the
"constructive" sort. My purpose is to improve your writing, not to
destroy your confidence.
- Mark your manuscript, correcting grammatical and spelling errors and
suggesting alternative wording where appropriate, line-by-line.
- Highlight areas that are especially well-written, so you will know
where your strengths are.
- Where appropriate, offer suggestions for plot development, character
development or other areas that could be strengthened.
- Return a two-to-four page written analysis of your work. This will
include evaluation of: plot, setting, characterization, dialogue,
special effects (flash forwards, flashbacks, etc.), voice, point of view
and any other areas particular to your work.
- If appropriate, recommend reading or resources to strengthen your
areas of weakness.
- Answer any questions you July have via email.
- Provide my telephone number for a personal follow-up, if you desire.
For Sandy's success stories, see
Write Sandy at firstname.lastname@example.org
(See Sandy's article above.)
Lynette's creative Writing Website
(type both lines in one)
The Glass Heart
by Robert Edward Levin
My name is Robert Edward Levin, and
I am pleased to announce the pending
release of my upcoming book, THE GLASS
Available in August, 2002, in both
hardcover and paperback, THE GLASS
HEART is largely a collection of short
stories, replete with characters who
tango with the strengths and
weaknesses of the human spirit.
To read an excerpt from THE GLASS
HEART, or to purchase a copy of the
book, please visit my website at,
and click on the appropriate link.
Otherwise, come August visit any
major bookstore (Amazon, Barnes &
Noble, Borders, etc.), and buy as many
copies as you can possibly carry...
for, in addition to being a little
anxious about the book's reception, I
am truly starving.
Visit our new subject sections, which
we have adopted from popular demand
and, in one case, patriotism.
Help a Writer
Try a Writer's Survey
This is Dianne Ochiltree's
site for children, parents,
teachers and writers for
young readers. Dianne is an
author of books for young
readers (birth to teenage)
and she is also a children's
book reviewer. She's been
writing professionally for
over 25 years---about 18
years in public
and the last 7 years as a
children's writer. Dianne
has two books published to
date, with Scholastic and
with Simon & Schuster.
http://tritt.wirefire.com The Inspiration for Writers website offers help and encouragement to writers of all levels. Tips and Techniques give practical advice about frequent writing blunders. The Writer's Prayer, inspirational quotes, and essays about the writing life add insight and inspiration. The Fiction Showcase offers short stories for the reader's enjoyment. And, for those serious about improving their writing skills, manuscript critiques and coaching services are available. Visit http://tritt.wirefire.com today!
Read... Two-bit Dancing
Life's an onion. Not a new concept—Usually, what we reveal to others
about ourselves adds flavor, distinction…making us appear just a bit more
exciting. Assume for a moment, that someone is peeling your life apart,
onion layer by onion layer. Are you still adding flavor? Distinction? Is
at the heart of the onion really a heart? Is it, then, the onion crying —
or the one who’s peeling…?
Angela Louie, mother of a teenager and a disabled child, is entering a
fine hotel while fidgeting with the business card of an escort service —
lapse of common sense? Hanson Lee Ascano is a computer genius working for
a prestigious firm — he also dances in an exotic night club a few nights
each week. Tom Lawson is taking on what should be a routine investigation
to reunite a parent with his children — instead, it rouses monsters.
For more info, visit... http://www.twobitdancing.com/
About the Author
Evelyn Schneider was born and raised in Germany. She has written
"almost anything from plant-care tags to television sitcoms." She lives in
San Diego, California.
She says, Two-bit Dancing was inspired by a television talk show, and
laughs. Then, serious: "The true inspiration came many years ago while
visiting a police fair. I was a teenager then and should have been
impressed by the latest crime-fighting technology. But what remained in my
soul where the images of cubicles upon cubicles filled with photographs of
children -- not victims of some far-away war but sons and daughters of
modern families: burnt, starved, locked away.
Go Back in Time!...
our new all - immersion Life of Jesus (Part 1) from David C. Cook
III. You'll become a true believer. Visit...
is dedicated to the memory of David C. Cook III.
This Just In – From Paul the Apostle
By Kurt Schuller
inspired work recreating
What to Expect
by Lynette Rees
So you’ve never tried a
writers’ group, but have decided that this is the year you will join
How do I go about it?
A good place to start is
your local library which should have information of any writers'
your area. The group may even be held at the library itself. The
local newspaper may advertise any groups in your locality and further
afield. The Internet is another good source of information too. By
tapping something like “Writers’ Groups + (the name of your town)”
into a search engine it may throw up what your looking for. It’s best
to put the wording in inverted commas, to be more specific in your
What type of groups are
that have been set up by individuals to meet once a week/fortnight or
monthly. This type of group will usually read out their poems and
stories to one another, some groups will critique, others do not. It
tends to be more of a social thing. Some circles have speakers to
visit, e.g. a local author may give a talk on how he/she became
published. Any competitions may be discussed and visits to book fairs
etc. Some writers’ circles will put together an anthology of the
members stories and poetry which can be purchased for a small fee.
These may be on specific writing topics like “How To Write For
Magazines”, or “Writing For Children” etc. There is usually an
‘expert’ of some sort teaching the class. Workshops can also
be found on-line e.g.: http://www.coffeehouseforwriters.com/courses.html
Creative Writing Classes.
These can be on-going indefinitely, or for a set period of time,
anything from a few weeks to a year or more. They may be run by the
local university and held in a library or some other premises. The
classes tend to have a set format: e.g. each person reads out their
work and the rest of the group critique it. Then later in the
session, there may be a class exercise to do. For example, everyone
has to write down a character’s name on a card, then on a second a
location, on a third card an action. The cards are collected and
placed in three piles in the middle of the table: character, location
and action. Each person draws a card from each pile and has to create
a story using the 3 cards in a set amount of time. The only drawback
with a class of this sort is that as the work is read out, sometimes
grammatical errors are missed, (e.g. spelling and punctuation mistakes)
and so forth. Although, some of the work may go in for marking to the
tutor, it doesn’t always.
On-line writing classes.
These are great if circumstances don’t allow you to make it to a local
class, and are becoming very popular. Some are free, but most are
not. The average price is $75 (USD) for a class lasting about 6
weeks. Lessons are given by e-mail and work submitted either by
e-mail and/or posted to the group for critiquing. The good thing
about this type of class is that as the work is actually read by the
other members as well as the tutor, grammatical errors are easily
picked up. Sometimes, there is a chat room session held for members,
but depending on where in the world everyone is, it can be hard to
arrange a suitable time to meet. This session usually involves
questions and answers to the tutor and a chance to get together.
So what are the
advantages/disadvantages in joining a writers’ group?
I would say that the
advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
Having set work to complete, keeps you motivated.
Gives you the opportunity to try out new ideas.
You get the chance to read or hear others’ work: all sorts of styles
There’s a possibility of keeping up with the latest competitions and
Socialization with other members.
You get the chance to learn from your writing mistakes, and what
others really think of your writing.
Sometimes it can become too much of a social event with not enough
work getting done.
Criticism may hit you badly - you need to develop a thick skin.
As you can see there is
everything to gain and not a lot to lose by joining a writers’ group.
So what are you waiting for sign up for a class right now.....
Instructor Name: Lynette Rees [Dip. Couns]
What is Writing Therapy?
Writing Therapy is a way of connecting with your emotions via pen and
paper, or the keyboard. I devised this course after studying the research of
James W Pennebaker, Head of Psychology, University of Texas. Pennebaker's
research shows that writing helps to lift the mood of depressed people. He
also found that students who wrote about how they were feeling coped better
with their exams.
I have devised 9 lessons in all - taking you from what writing therapy is
to covering the basic emotions we feel such as anger, grief, love, fear etc.
I've also added a lesson on dreams and how to interpret yours, and a bonus
lesson on creative writing. Each lesson has an appropriate assignment to
match the lesson's content.
Write your way to emotional health!