Time For Reality
After 9 pacing techniques, 14 in-depth articles, and 6 months…. it’s time for the rubber to meet the road.
- Is is possible to learn pacing?
- Can you improve your manuscript by following Diane’s advice?
- Will you be a better, stronger, more powerful writer?
Meet a Real Writer Named Marcy
Back in September, I offered to work with one of the Freelance-Zone readers to improve his or her pacing.
Marcy Campbell (a real, live writer!) answered the call, and I’ve been working with her as she transforms her novel’s opening (a real manuscript with real rejections) by applying my pacing insights.
I totally lucked out.
#1 Marcy is a very advanced writer. She has a beautiful voice and style of prose. Her characters are fully fleshed out. Her plot and themes are in place. In fact, she’s so good, when you read her prose, you don’t know why she hasn’t sold yet. (Hint: pacing.)
So she was perfect to work with.
After all, how do you improve something that’s already 99% of the way there? That’s the advanced writer’s dilemma.
#2 Marcy is writing a quiet, up-market, commercial novel and not a thriller. This excites me (a thriller writer), because pacing is often mistaken as something involving blood and car chases.
But it’s not.
It’s something that even nice, quiet books need.
#3 Marcy is a hard worker, fearless, and willing to re-write, re-vision, and create totally new scenes in order to kick pacing ass. And she did all this without losing her personal vision of what her novel is or should be.
Rock on, Marcy!
This is such a rare trait, even among career-focused writers. Why?
Because ego can get in your way – the hope, fear, or insistence that what you’ve slaved over really does work, and the person giving advice just doesn’t get it.
Rewriting over and over means you have to be okay with hearing that there’s more work to do. Sometimes that can break your heart.
Oh, and you need to still hold true to your vision. That leaves you juggling openness, ego, and wisdom. Marcy did this, and I admire that tremendously.
How Marcy Did It – Diagnostics
(* See the expanded pacing definition below.)
Marcy’s original version was so finely written that the pacing issues were only truly visible when looking back over it.
This is true for many manuscripts. In an initial read, all you have as a reader is a vague feeling that the manuscript just isn’t compelling enough (something commonly mentioned in rejection letters).
The summary below will make her work sound obviously problematic, but that wasn’t the case at all. Her deft prose was fairly dazzling, her voice quite beautiful, and her protagonist’s thoughts filled with sly wit. But underneath that, she faced the following challenges: Continue reading 9 Pacing Techniques, 1 Scene on Fire (example using real, live writer)