Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Balance Anyone?

For years, I've thought my biggest problem as a writer (aside from the fact that I'm homeschooling four kids and can barely find the time to do it!) was pacing. Dragging stories, dragging scenes, dragging chapters. My first drafts are always filled with all three. Yesterday, I had an epiphany. I realized that my real problem isn't pacing, it's balance.

In order to keep a romantic suspense story moving along, each scene should further both the romance and the suspense. In my case, I've also got to build in a faith element. Every chapter must flow smoothly and bring the hero and heroine closer to all three things - the resolution of the suspense/mystery, the realization that s/he can't live without the hero/heroine, and a deeper understanding of her/his relationship with God.

That's a lot of stuff to fit into a chapter. Done wrong, the details of each element may become either overwhelming (which slows down the story), or none existent (which prevents the story from building in depth). Good balance of elements within the story leads to smooth transitions that allow our readers to say, "Oh, yes, of course that's what she would do (feel, think, say)." It also creates a story that compels the reader to turn pages as she (or he) lives each moment, each realization with the hero and heroine.

And, of course, that's what we want.

As you move through your second draft, ask yourself how each scene furthers the elements of your story. Work hard to tighten your writing so that it doesn't distract from the story. Above all, don't be afraid to make changes as you strive to create a compelling and well-balanced manuscript!


mindyo said...

Oh sure, give me something else to think about. Trust me, I can be about as unbalanced as they come. I often have a hard time reading books about writing. My brain just gets too full and I want to throw up my hands and go, "forget it, I can't do this." It's not that I can't, I just don't learn that way. Thanks for using your blog to help other writers. And for breaking things down into manageable, relatively easy to understand terms. Otherwise, my brain is just a gooey blob. Also, you show us that no matter how many times one has been published, you never stop learning.
Thanks, Shirlee.

Mindy O

Shirlee McCoy said...

Thanks, Mindy!

I don't read books about writing, either. Who has time?