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.  😉


Filed under Drama Box

35 responses to “Friday!

  1. Jenn

    Happy Monday to you Kim,

    I hope you had a fab weekend.
    I just wanted to say thank you for the explaination of the 1 or 2 sentence reasoning. I love your writing style & all the little hints help. I can see where you are coming from & I’m sure it will help in the future.

  2. What you said about sentence length affecting pace and tone is really helpful. Thanks for explaining it in a way that makes so much sense. It means a lot!

    It sounds like a good combo that you’ve got both a willful inner two-year-old and a wiser inner five-year-old: one to keep you on your toes and one to make sure you’ve got your eye on the bigger picture. Your inner two-year-old kinda sounds like my cat when she wants to walk on my keyboard while I’m typing. -lol- Yeah, I’ve got one of those inside me as well. 🙂 Thankfully I’ve got a five-year-old in here also. 😉 One that knows how important it is to make sure to include all the vital pieces when I’m creating something. Well, at least the ones I know to include. -lol-

    How was your weekend?

    Well, have a good day, Kim!

  3. Connie Tran

    Thanks so much for the scene. And I am so amazed at how much thought you put in just one or two sentences. It really makes it worthwhile reading your books. 🙂

  4. Mel from OR

    Amazing! I always thought that the evidence of my amateur writer skills were my short sentences, but come now I understand why. Because there is action happening and when the adrenaline is pumping, you think is short phrases/thoughts.
    Your tip was very helpful, as always. Thank you and have a lovely weekend.

  5. So much thought that goes into one sentence. And I appreciate each one. It makes for an extremely good read.

  6. Marsha

    That made sense to me. Thank you again for the writing advice. Oh! Have a great weekend too.

  7. JanisHarrison

    Wow. A couple of paragraphs, and I understand so much more. Being a logorrheaic, I tend to write long, complicated sentences with lots of adjectives and adverbs. Too much of a good thing, I know. And now I realize that my first real rewrite of “Wytche Wood” will be breaking down many of my sentences to simpler ones. And punching up the action sequences with some Hemingway-type brevity.
    (That story I referenced above is what I started for our Nasty fun last year, and has grown into a novella, fast approaching a good-size book. I’ve also dug out some of my earlier starts and have begun working on the story lines. Amazing what you triggered in me, Ms Kim!)

  8. Rosalie

    Thank you for this! I love reading your blog no matter what, but little (big) tips like this make it rank even higher on the “Man, how awesome is this?!” scale.

  9. mudepoz

    THAT WAS WHAT I WANTED TO KNOW! It’s one thing to say that there should be shorter sentences in fight scenes, another to understand to what the heck that means. Contraction sorts of things.

    Versus slowing things down for pondering. Way cool!

  10. Antonio

    I like how your guiding artistic conscious is made up of two bickering children–a willful 2-yr-old and and a “wiser” 5-yr-old. This explains a lot. I’m picturing a determined little witch on one shoulder and a cool little vampire, legs crossed, filing her nails, sitting on your other shoulder.

    2-yr-old witch: “I wanna wite! I wanna wite book now.”
    5-yr-old vamp: (sigh) “Your such a baby.”
    2-yr-old: “I no baby–I’m a witer!”
    Guy: “Kim, I’m heading to the store, can I get–”
    5-yr-old: “Oooo! Mulch, paving stones, paint…I’ll make you a list!”
    2-yr-old: “Cheez-its!”
    Guy: “Someone needs a nap.”
    Both kids: “Noooooooo!”

  11. Too many writers stick to “rules” about language and voice without realizing they’ve killed their story. It’s good to know these rules but it’s better to know and trust your writer self and go with what the scene requires, even if it may not be the current trendy thing. Thanks for sharing your techniques, Kim.

  12. Chelikins

    The more you write about writing.. the more amazed I am. My piddly trials were nothing. And I know why… I did not and do not have the patience. I have patience to read.. ALOT! But not to put words down. It is truly an artform. You make me realize it is not a fly by night kind of thing. Thanks for everything you do!

    • JanisHarrison

      Chelikins, darlin’, any effort is growth. Maybe it helped you decide you really don’t want to be a professional writer, but now you know a bit more why you don’t. And that’s growth. Also, for me, learning about the process deepens my appreciation of the final product — and I’ll bet that’s true for you. Congrats!

    • OMGosh Chelikins. It sounds like you’re giving up completely. I hope you keep writing at your pace. Art is art. You make it to connect, not to “be the best.”

  13. Hello Mrs. Harrison!

    I have a question, lol, and it might be a little bit premature.
    When will we get a teaser for Pale Demon? Are we going to get a teaser?


    Glad it’s weekend. Glad my friday is over. It was a LONG day. Good. But LONG.
    Have a great weekend and enjoy autumn. I’m so jealous of the northern hemisphere right now. 😉


  14. Maryellen

    Thought for the day:

    When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing. ~Enrique Jardiel Poncela, Spanish playwright and novelist

    • I like that, Maryellen. My mom keeps trying to tell me that she’s not a good writer because it takes her hours to work up a page, and then I look at her and say, Yeah. Me too. -grin-

  15. JulieB

    Excellent! I just read an interesting series of posts on Jenny Crusie’s forums where authors were debating the use of adverbs. While a lot of authors adjust their pacing instictually, after years of reading and writing, it helps to be able to step back and understand how the reader decodes the work for those times you can’t pinpoint why something is awkward or doesn’t work.
    Well stated.
    But you forgot to tell us who the male character is…

  16. Yvonne

    Good Morning!

    I am new to your blog but have read and re-read all the books, bought them from Audible and listen to them over and over. Then I told my mother about them and she joined my obsession. I just want to say, as a reader, that I don’t know about all the grief and pain, blood and sweat behind the story; I just read, laugh, make new friends and wait impatiently for more. Thank you for all the behind-the-scenes stuff you slough through to give me hours and hours of pleasure!

    • Thank you, Yvonne! I’m really glad to hear that you and your mom are enjoying the Hollows together. Writing has always been a very taxing job for me, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.

  17. Joelle

    Thanks a bunch for the pacing tip. Exactly what I needed to hear/read today. Usually I don’t read any blog posts until after lunch but a little voice kept urging me to check my email earlier and I’m so glad that I followed that urging. Now I can stop pacing and start writing with the thought about how pacing works to make the story move especially when there are short sentences that get a lot of emotion across to the reader with just a few words. 🙂 Have a great weekend