Pacing the Novel (A RavenCon 2022 panel)

The titular panel at RavenCon 2022 consisted of the following panelists: Terry Brooks, DB Bray as moderator, Patrick Dugan, Wayland Smith, and John Hartness.

The description was: How do you intensify a scene, bringing the reader deep into the narrative, and still keep the novel moving? With three basic types of text (exposition, dialog, description) you can suspend time or send the story rocketing forward. We share techniques for balancing intensity and movement in order to draw readers in and keep them turning pages.

Here are my top take-aways.

8 Tips for Pacing Your Novel

  1. Leave your chapters with a hook for the next chapter
  2. Current publishers prefer dialogue (or action tags) at the end of the sentence.
  3. Use lengthy descriptions when the place matters to the plot and story, otherwise, keep them sparser
  4. For fight scenes, zoom into a single person’s (or two) point of view — even for massive battles. Make sure to make it personal.
  5. Vary your fight lengths — mix the fast and dirty with the long and drawn out
  6. Read your manuscript, when you get bored, up the stakes – add a time crunch, injure someone, add another problem that needs solving
  7. If you’ve got a drawn out chase that’s that’s getting boring? Lose something that either matters for the plot or emotional stakes. i.e. His father’s knife
  8. For a 3-act structure, part 2 should be the same length as parts 1 and 3 combined — just don’t make it soggy.

P.S. Apparently, Terry Brooks means for Shannara to be pronounced “SHAWN-uh-rah” rather than “Sha-NAR-uh”

None of them really admitted to using beat sheets, but I sure do. Any other big pacing tips they missed?

1 Comment

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s