Erin Lausten

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Now where does this go?

Posted by erinlausten on November 1, 2010

Words written: 30,186           Currently Reading: Blameless by Gail Carriger

Time has been on my mind lately. Actually, it seems to always be on my mind. Too much of it seems to be delegated to my day job– at least that’s my opinion. I would love to be able to focus those forty hours a week toward my writing and career development. But alas, the situation does not allow for that. At least, not yet.

That is my quota for whining this month, so you will hear no more on that. Now, back to Time. I’m not talking about the whole concept of Time in the world at large, but rather in the literary world. I have read many stories that I have flown through–I have been known to read a 350 page book in 3 hours. Some of this is my ability to read fast, but it is also the pace of the book. Some scenes you read and you feel breathless by the end. Some books shift from one scene to the next at a breakneck speed.

In other situations the story is deliberate and provokes extensive thought in the reader. In this case the development of the story is partially the responsibility of the reader. The effort can be quite intensive, but well worth the it.

In my opinion, the best novels fit in the happy medium between a book with constant action and energy and one that gives the reader a few moments to process their thoughts. But the challenge I have run into is how to create the right transition between speed and time. Where do you put the action? Where do you put the breaks? How do you know if the breaks are not just dragging the story down? How do you know you haven’t lost the audience in the action sequence?

When I read another author’s story the answers to this are usually pretty easy to find. Was I still engrossed? Did I know where I was in the story? Did I get bored during the down times and not want to continue? But the hard part really hits when you are writing the story yourself. I know where the story is going, I know what my characters are thinking and what they are doing. But, how do I know my audience will see and feel the same?

First readers are incredibly helpful once you’ve gotten through your first drafts. But what about when you’re in the middle of the story? When you are doing your first edits? I find myself constantly second guessing myself, and it has taken a lot of work to silence those niggling doubts. I guess I really won’t know until I get to the end. But I sure wish it were as easy as when I read another author’s work.

Well, now that I have that little frustration out in the air, back to the story. I have a million things to do, but I will find the time to write this week, and hopefully get through the scene that has been challenging me lately.


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