As I read through the chapter on pacing and progression, I realized that it read like a chapter out of a relationship self-help book. Not only is it one of the most difficult things to master in a book, it’s one of the trickiest things to work out in a relationship.
I thought I’d read through his ideas on why pacing and progression problems were occurring in a manuscript and his suggestions for tweaking these issues, then see if the same principles would apply in a relationship. Why? Because when you’re trying to learn something, it helps to apply it to a situation you can relate to. Maybe if I see my relationship with my book as being just as important as a relationship with a loved one, I’ll work just as hard at solving writing problems as I would love problems. Plus, I have no love life (nor happening social life) to speak of, so I have a lot of free time on my hands.
Onward. His ideas on reasons/solutions for slow/fast pacing and progression problems followed by a love problem that matches. What’s interesting in comparing the two is that they are both subjective. Readers and their likes/dislikes regarding pacing and progression differ just as every relationship differs. However, everything can be improved. Because this has the potential of being a five-page blog, I’ve made it very, very brief.
- Your story world enthralls you but not your reader. Be less solipsistic. Life, love, and the relationship do not revolve around you. Stop being so self-absorbed and make a genuine effort to grasp the other person’s perspective.
- Your chapter is less than riveting. Raise the stakes. I don’t know. This sounds like an ultimatum to me. You should be 100% certain you’re ready to walk away if you raise the stakes and your significant other doesn’t match your bet.
- You have a good starting point and ending point, but the middle is taking too long. Decrease plot elements and you’ll increase the pace. You hit it off fantastically and can foresee a future with this person, but you’re stuck in “friends” zone. Stop acting like a pussy and make a move.
- You have too much telling and description instead of scenes. Replace chatter with dramatization. Your relationship has stalled—too many nights in front of the boob-tube and not enough action. For the love of Pete, spice it up! What’s that saying… A couple who plays together stays together? Buy some new sheets, candles, wine, toys—whatever it takes—and get dirty.
- Pace is too fast? Ask yourself: What’s the rush? Is an example needed here?
- Progression is lacking? Develop plot and characterization. Don’t feel like you really know your love? Ask some questions and pay attention to the little things they do. Small actions are far more telling than small talk.
- Progression is too fast. Readers don’t want to know everything upfront—draw it out. Feel like you know all there is to know about your love, thus there are no surprises left? Maintain some mystery. Discovering something new about your significant other ignites that spark.
So there it is. Short and sweet and it all makes sense to me.
Now, maybe it’s time to get down and dirty with a manuscript. I’ve been romancing it for far too long now. It’s time for some real action.