Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!
Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!
Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.
KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.
Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!
Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."
Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.
Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Pacing and Timing
Timing also changes with a writer’s choice of POV. I often write in third person because I want to show simultaneous events, which I can do by heading a new chapter with a different character’s voice. When the characters finally do meet up in time and space, the reader knows how each of them got to that point in the plot. The characters’ separate fractions add up to a whole, which I think is realistic, given that individuals focus on one aspect, following their own logic and interest. First person POV limits time to that of the main character.
In mystery, the reader anticipates that justice will prevail while watching or reading. That feeling of anticipation, produced by the writer, is what defines pacing. The main character’s (s’) interaction in the plot and its culmination defines timing—in many TV shows and books that karmic split-second timing. HEA or JP is a great way to finish. But like a TV show or in a book series, the formula becomes anticlimactic. For a writer, this is a double-edged sword. We want our readers to believe in our hero and champion our protagonist. But isn’t it all so predictable and boring to write the same ending repetitively?
I suspect that although anticlimactic, this is one aspect of books or TV shows that audiences like, and is probably the reason that romance and mystery are popular. Those HEA and JP endings reassure those whose lives are less than predictable. And really, doesn’t that include everyone? They’re what readers want, and what a writer needs to give to them for marketability. So how does a writer pace a novel with mounting tension and create a HEA or JP endings without writing a formula novel?
Marilyn Alt’s main character Maggie, in her Bewitching Series, breaks her ankle. The broken ankle has become a plot device she uses, so far, in two books, lengthening her pace, as we hobble along. What does it accomplish? Rather than rely on her body, Maggie develops more of her witchy powers, forces her to rely on a newly formed love relationship, and depends on friendships pulling secondary characters into the plot. Maggie also finds that although she thought her timing was horrible, it’s not. Alt brings the idea of timing full circle.
In Snow Falling on Cedars, David Guterson uses snow as a character, which paces the book like silent and steadily falling snow, masking truth as it covers the ground. While the main character remembers and reveals the truth, the snow melts. “Real” elements of geographic coordinates, winds and tides become the “timing,” upon which the main character solves the murder. The author’s literal use of timing becomes figurative.
My book, TOASTING FEAR, relies on split-second timing at the end. But I won’t reveal why this timing will dismay my characters, even when they do solve the murder. Sometimes great timing isn’t all it’s cracked-up to be.
How have you paced your books? Does timing play a factor in how you structure your novel? Have you chosen your POV utilizing what each has to offer in the pace and timing of your plot? Do you use devices to change pace?