I’ve got nothing going on in the house today except writing, and that means it’s going to be a GOOD day. ;-)
So, I’m working yesterday turning my dialog of the previous day into text, and it’s going along pretty well. If I can get to page 400, I will be right in line with my original goal of finishing the rough draft by the end of October, but of course, now that I see I can probably make it, I want to push it a little. Get done before the end of October so I can plan out the next book a little before NaNoWrMo starts. The wiser part of me is looking at the 150 pages left to go and is laughing at the determined two-year-old in me, contrary, willful, and needing a nap. -laugh- I’ve learned to listen to the wiser five-year-old, so I’ll just keep at the pace I am so I don’t miss anything vital on this rewrite. Sacrificing quality for speed isn’t the point right now. That’s what rough drafts are for.
Okay, quick lesson for you writers out there about pacing. I had a sentence I was working with yesterday that I gave some thought to. One of the things you do when you rewrite is to get rid of redundant words, but sometimes, the wordier way is better for pacing. Example:
This is the beginning of a paragraph where Rachel is feeling a little stressed out, a little vulnerable. There is no action in the entire chapter, but there’s a lot going on in Rachel’s mind.
Original sentence: There was a hint of concern in his voice. It went to my gut and twisted.
In my zeal to tighten, I changed it to: The hint of concern in his voice went to my gut and twisted.
Not a lot of difference, but when I got done changing it, I realized that I’d sacrificed pace for brevity. When the action gets faster, sentences should get shorter. I do this a lot in fight scenes. It gives the reader a sense of urgency that translates to faster reading and a closer connection to the work. It’s harder to see why it works in a scene with no physical action, but THIS was where something is happening to Rachel. She is figuring out that this man is starting to care for her, and that scares her. With the two shorter sentences, the reader knows subconsciously that this is important without me adding “It scared me. I didn’t want him to care.” With the longer sentence, more relaxed and less stressful, it might get lost. (Which I might want to do if I wanted Rachel to be ignorant for a while longer, but in this case, she needs to deal with it now.) Two short sentences stand out, and the reader feels urgency, and makes the connection of fear without me saying so.
A small thing, sure, and most readers might just skip over it with no difference, but writing is full of small things that add up to big changes, and the more subtle your shifts, the more natural it feels to the reader and the more believable it is. So next time you’re editing for brevity, stop and see what the pacing is like, and maybe keep those two choppy sentences for effect.
How does the sentence(s) read now? “There was a hint of concern in his voice. My gut twisted.” Short, quick, and very worrisome. ;-)