Ally Blake Romance Author - Blog

Latest news from Australian romance author Ally Blake, writer of fun, fresh flirty romance novels.

Monday, 25 April 2011

pillow talk ~ pacing

As the next in my series of PILLOW TALK posts, reader Jill has asked about pacing. She says:
I'm always trying to find that balance of weaving in back story and setting the scene w/out dragging the story down. I tend to write really lean first drafts, but then my next draft comes out overstuffed! Your stories are always nicely paced. Emotional and w/a definite "feel" w/out being slow. How do you know when you've got it right? Gut instinct? Practice? Do you think it's better to err on one side or the other? Sorry for the long question!
Long question? You're a girl after my own heart!

Though I tend to write long from the outset. My 50,000 words books are always sent to my poor editor at closer to 65,000 then have to be pared back. (THE WEDDING DATE - out in North America next month as THE ROGUE WEDDING GUEST - clocked in at 66,254 first draft!) Boy do I wish I was one of those authors who always writes short!!! The overwriting and massive amount of editing makes for A LOT of extra work. But you know what? For me I believe writing long helps create layered and lucious stories. And once I have the story as rich and juicy as I can, all that slashing and burning can only make for the leanest cleanest way for the story to be told which - hopefully! - makes for a faster read.

Some PACING TIPS: (many of which I struggle to follow!)

1. Start in the middle of the action

2. Keep backstory to a minimum, and tease the reader with it through the story rather than giving into "info dumps" which always bring stories to a grinding halt

3. Use conversation rather than exposition whenever you can as it's far meatier for the reader, and with all that white space on the page reads faster!

4. Keep scenes short - watch how movies do it

5. Read large blocks out loud to see where you can simplify sentences (not something I'm known for!)

6. Don't say something three times if you can say it once

7. Try writing without editing - the scenes I write without stopping to find the right word, are often the ones I edit the least

8. And yes, gut instinct and practice sure help! I hope that gives you a little taste of how I do it, Jill!

And if anyone else out there in Blogland has any other craft questions, behind the book questions, questions about how to type with one hand while shovelling down M&Ms with the other please comment hereupon or send me a note to with "PILLOW TALK" in the header.

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