E. Tip of the Day: Did I get your attention with the photo of the sunset? If yes, that was the idea. 🙂
Pacing is a big part of keeping your reader’s attention throughout the story. A writer needs to challenge the reader with equal parts of character introspection, action scenes, dialogue between characters, and beautiful narration. Each has its own part to play, and their own pros and cons which we’ll be exploring in more detail at a later date. But for now, let’s look at the different roles.
Character Introspection: This is one of my favorites because as a reader you can really get to know the character, see how they feel about controversial issues, how they feel about other characters and places, and best of all, how they handle stressful situations.The main character could be backed up into a corner in a sticky situation, and somehow they find a way out of it. Their inner strength shines through to do what it’s best for their situation no matter what the sacrifice is to them. And as a reader, we get to see that struggle and achievement first hand. It’s exhilarating!
Action Scenes: The action is what keeps the reader interested most of the time, so it’s very important to include action scenes often in your story. Although the character walking from one end of the hallway certainly can be construed as action, it’s not really the type of action the reader may necessarily be looking for. So, be careful with adding in too much “boring action”.
In a romance, the reader is just begging for a kissing scene between the hero and heroine halfway through the novel. So, using the romance genre as an example here, walking from one end of a hallway to the other could easily have enough tension in the scene for the reader to stay interested–especially if that hero is waiting for the heroine at the other end of the hallway with a kiss. But this isn’t always the case, so be aware of how you’re using your action scenes.
Dialogue Between Characters: When using dialogue, it’s important that the writer always shows the reader new information with the conversation. So many times I’ve read dialogue between characters where the writer has re-hashed the same information that the main character just told the reader about in the previous chapter using character introspection. It makes the story redundant. Stay away from redundancy, when possible.
Use dialogue as a way to show character emotions and add more tension to the story. One tip: make sure each of your characters has their own distinct voice. I’m not saying give each one of the characters their own accent. Not at all. I mean, use different physical tags and sayings to make those characters stand out. This will help your reader keep the characters straight in their heads while they’re reading, and therefore keep the story interesting for them.
Narration: Choose how much of the story you’d like the reader to see through the main character, and how much of the story will be narrated. Seeing the details through the main character will, in most cases, feel more real to the reader. But there are some details better left to narration.
Having a good balance of all the parts will help you write an edge-of-the-seat story with great pacing, and will ultimately help you reach your goal of showing the reader an entertaining time with your story. Good luck!