Thursday 10 December 2015

How I Write #11: Plotting and Pacing

Welcome to the final post in my How I Write series. Today I will take a quick look at plotting and pacing.

First off, I should say that I fall somewhere between the categories of plotter and pantser. I do not create long, elaborate plot plans before I commence writing, but neither do I work completely from scratch. Generally I have an idea, which I'll mull around in my head for a while. Then I will jot a few character notes and plot notes, including a rough outline of the direction I expect the story to take and the planned conclusion. Then I will write character profiles, and after that I get started. I work within the vague outline I established, but I also allow the characters and story to develop organically within that basic framework as I write.

Which way you work will depend on personal preference. Some of you may prefer just to let the words flow, while others may want to map out the story in minute detail before commencing the first draft. Either way, one thing you will need to consider is pacing.

Pacing is the way your story flows, and the speed at which the action is advanced. A good way to check the pacing can be carried out at the end of your first draft. Take the draft and split your chapters into scenes and beats. When you look at the distribution of scenes and beats within your book, you can see any places where the pacing may have become a little slow. For example, maybe all your other chapters have around twelve to fifteen beats per chapter, but one chapter only has six. This may be intentional if it's a chapter you wanted to use to slow down the action for some specific purpose, but if this is not the case, you will probably want to review the chapter to ensure it does not become plodding.

If you write genre fiction and are aiming at the e-book market, chances are you'll want a snappy, fast-paced story to grab and old a reader's attention. If, on the other hand, you are writing a deep, thought-provoking piece of literary fiction, your pacing will likely be a little slower. As with many of the topics I've looked at previously, match your pacing with your target audience's expectations to ensure your book is success.

And on that note, I will leave you all. Happy Holidays, Happy Reading, and Happy Writing to one and all.

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