Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Writing Craft - Pacing

Story Essentials – Continued

Recapping as we work our way down the romance editor’s wish list, so far we have:

An opening hook
An appealing, human heroine
A hero to fall in love with. He must be human, appealing and honorable
An original story line.
Dialogue that sings
Emotional roll coaster (highs and lows)
Sensuality that steams up the windows

A pace that keeps the reader hooked

Pacing is what keeps your reader turning pages. Pacing is why you don’t start your book with your heroine waking up and end your chapters with her drifting off to sleep. The ticking clock on a hidden bomb is an illustration of fast pacing. Watch any action movie you’ll see fast pacing in action.

There are subtler forms of tension. I’m reading a historical romance that is difficult to set down. There are no timers on explosives around – the nearest thing to time pressure is six months away. Ho hum? Hardly. The Hero has yet to realize the heroine is the one he’s about to marry the wrong woman and he must impregnate said wrong woman as fast as possible so there’s no doubt as to her condition prior to the six month deadline.

Though this is a romance with the happy ending guaranteed this is a previously unread author. Is her idea of happy ending acceptable? The story opened with hero in bed with married woman, definitely not the heroine. Can this author be trusted?

The unanswered question, the doubt raised that’s tension too. That pulls the reader forward for one more page long after she should be asleep. What happens next? Will this couple fall in love? Will they overcome the obstacles to their happiness? You want reminders of your core conflict on every page, you want to turn up the tension and then you want to release it gradually until there’s nothing left except a sigh of satisfaction.


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