Tag Archives: Pacing

12.17: Q&A on Style, Diction, and Paragraphing

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard

We fielded some questions on style, diction, and paragraphing:

  • Is it okay to have pretty prose in a straightforward adventure story?
  • How do author voice and character voice differ?
  • How do you prevent paragraphs from rambling?
  • I feel like my writing is derivative of the writers whose work I read. How can I find or develop my own voice?
  • How much does diction play into genre fiction?
  • Is it okay to write in a natural speaking voice?
  • During which part of the writing process do you pay attention to style?

By Way Of Correction: “Unaccompanied Sonata,” by Orson Scott Card, is the story about anxiety of influence. “Tunesmith,” by Lloyd Biggle Jr., is about music, and even has the name “Bach” in it, but it’s not the story Howard described.

 

 

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Ask your alpha readers for their definition of your voice.

Wayward, Volume 1, by Jim Zub (writer),  Steven Cummings (Illustrator), John Rauch (Illustrator), and Tamra Bonvillain (Illustrator)

12.15: Pacing With Chapters

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley

What makes a chapter? WHY is a chapter? How do we chapter, and do we always chapter the same way? Should our chapters be this many parts of speech? This episode will answer these questions and more, except for that last question, to which the answer is “probably not.”

Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Examine a book that made you keep turning its pages, and consider how it does that. Then look at a book you did not like, and consider how it nevertheless kept you reading it.

Jed and the Junkyard War, by Steven Bohls

12.14: Controlling Pacing with Structure

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard

Let’s talk about the structural tools we use to control pacing. These include sentence length and punctuation.

 

Also, white-space.

 

Liner note: Here is the Feb 12, 2017 Schlock Mercenary strip mentioned around the 18-minute mark.

Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered aboard a fleeing generation-ship by Alex Jackson

 

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Change up a piece of fiction of yours by changing the length of paragraphs and sentences.

Tea & Jeopardy: A GeekPlanetOnline Community Podcast, by Emma Newman and Peter Newman

Writing Excuses 10.46: How Do I Make This Pretty?

The microphones again find us aboard the Independence of the Seas*, to talk about how terribly ugly this manuscript is, and what we can do to make it pretty. In this episode we drill down on line-by-line, paragraph-by-paragraph revisions. This stage of the revision process is where our prose gets wordsmithed. This episode runs long, touching on:

  • Punching up the pacing
  • Turning things upside down
  • Parallelisms
  • Adverbial compression,
  • The pyramid of abstraction
  • Free and direct thought
  • Replacing negative-information descriptions
  • extreme editing exercises like “one sentence per concept.”

Obviously if you want more than just the bullet points you’ll need to have a listen…

*NOTE: Registration is now open for the 2016 Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat!

This episode was engineered aboard The Independence of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered ashore in a volcanic caldera by Alex Jackson.

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Here’s a tough one: Make an editing pass in which you cut 10% of the words on each page.

Writing Excuses 10.34: Q&A on Pacing

We wrap up this month’s discussion of pacing with a Q&A. Here are the questions we pulled out of the virtual hat (read: Twitter) for answering during the episode:

  • What are some early indications of a pacing problem?
  • How do you chart pacing so that it remains even?
  • Can you control pacing using scene/sequel format?
  • How do you handle character progression during travel without making it choppy?
  • It feels like new authors are required to deliver breakneck pacing. Is this true?
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Plot twists are coming next month. This exercise is called “hard left.” Take a scene that is moving forward at a breakneck pace. Throw a twist at them, and don’t break scene. Force the pacing to continue in the new direction.

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick, narrated by Karen White

Writing Excuses 10.32: How Do I Control the Speed of the Story?

As we said last week, we’re talking about pacing, and we’ve divided the concept into two parts. Last week we covered “sense of progress.” This week we’re talking about the passage of time. We discuss the tools we use, some of which are very mechanical (scene breaks, chapter breaks) and some of which are quite intricate, and require finesse to get right.

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Take something you’ve already written (a chapter with a few scenes would be perfect.) Change scene breaks to through-scenes. Then try moving the scene breaks around. See what happens to the pace of the story.

Seveneves: A Novel, by Neal Stephenson, narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal and Will Damron