Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Writing - Pace and description

The way in which we deliver our stories has many influences that may affect the pace of the work. There of course is another issue. How important is pace and what influences that aspect of delivering stories. A budding academic could write reams on both subjects.

Image result for literary pace

It is relevant to say at this stage that pace varies across the genres. When I began writing I was a bit of a slave to keeping the pace of the novels high because they were and are adventure mysteries, almost Bond-like stories. In that respect pace is essential but there is always a place for reflection.
As I develop as an author, and possibly as I get older, my writing is beginning to involve a degree more reflection and therefore the pace slows in some areas. Having said that the increase in empathy a reader may develop with a character is enhanced by a slower pace. There is a greater degree of humanity in those longer paragraphs when the people created on paper share their life experiences, where it is relevant to the story.
In taking the reader away from the main thread of the story an author is taking a risk. Some stories that have been written with enumerable flashbacks can become confusing and therefore less entertaining. I have seen films made from such books that become turgid and unfathomable as a result of too many flashbacks. As in all situations there is a happy medium and it is our skill as authors to strike a good balance between pace and description.

Please note I am not saying description = slow pace. As I said at the beginning there are very many influences on pace as well as genre.

In my Steele novel, Earth plc, I began to get to grips with description and the extra facets such writing can add to the stories.
One of my proofreaders commented favourably on the quality of the writing in this book. I included atmospheric description of the dark Kielder forest, which was quite chilling.


A man is found dead in the massive Kielder Forest in Northumberland and the initial reports suggest suicide. A member of Patrick A Steele's team feels that is not the whole story and an investigation ensues that leads the team into conflict with some of the most powerful people in the UK. Steele can mete out his own brand of justice initially but when the power companies and the government become involved Steele has to tread carefully.
This time Patrick has been drawn into a national issue that affects us all - Global warming. Steele comes up against the might of corporate finance with the backing of national government who are keen to maintain the status quo on the subject when in fact there is evidence to support a different view.
The team struggle to maintain their anonymity under intense pressure and the chances of success seem to be increasingly slim.
Has Patrick bitten off more than he can chew?
Is there collateral damage to other aspects of his life?
What is next for Steele and his team?

As authors we have the joystick in our hands with regards to pace, description and readability so don't be a megalomaniac but enjoy the control.

God Bless