Leigh Goff

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The Importance of Pacing

C.D. Hersh is here to talk about pacing and its importance to a better story. They offer six ways to keep a train from rolling through your scenes.

We’re not talking about stories about locomotives or the walking back and forth you do when waiting for someone. Pacing in writing is determined by the length of the scenes, how fast the action moves, and how quickly the reader is provided with information. Have you seen the movie “The Descendants” starring Nick Clooney? If you like panoramic views of Hawaii and lots of close-ups of Clooney, then hunt it up on your favorite streaming service. If, however, you prefer a faster paced story, this movie is not the one for you. When we belonged to a drama group our director was always talking about pacing. She hated pauses that were longer than it took for a ping pong ball to drop from a coffee table. In “The Descendants” you could have driven trains through some of the pauses in the scenes. Can you say sloooooow? Try as we might, we couldn’t figure out why so many sluggish scenes were needed. Some of the unnecessary scenes included close ups of an angst-ridden Clooney staring out into space, for way too long; pedantic scenes of him buried behind piles of paper at his office desk; more than one silent, plodding hospital scene with Clooney and his family, while the camera panned the room; long camera shots of Hawaii you could have fit four commercials into; and a closing movie scene where the characters spent minutes staring wordlessly at the television. The only thing in the last scene that made a point was the quilt they all snuggled under. Come on, already. Pick up the pace. Even sad stories need to move along at a clip that keeps the viewer, or reader, engaged. Pacing is such an important part of any story. Too slow and you lose the reader’s attention. Too fast and you leave them wondering what just happened. Here are a six tips to help you keep your story’s pacing moving along.
  • Use more dialogue for faster pacing. We’re not talking about dull “How’s the weather” conversation, unless the story’s about a tornado. Make every word count and tell the reader something new.
  • Don’t repeat information. There’s no need to beat the reader over the head with information. Telling them once that Aunt Millie is dying is sufficient. They’ll remember it. They’re smart.</li
  • Use action instead of tags in dialogue. You’ll not only speed up the pace, but you’ll show the reader what’s happening.
  • Keep two or more characters on the scene. Think Tom Hanks in Castaway, versus The Transformers.
  • Use narrative or description sparingly. Nothing stops a story like a side trip down memory lane or descriptions of setting and characters. Drop that kind of information into the story in short bites. The reader will still get it.
  • Create tension in the scene. Donald Maas says every scene should have tension, even every page. If you don’t have tension there’s no reason for your reader to turn the page.
Check your work in progress. Are your scenes tight and exciting, or can you drive a train or a semi-truck through them? Scenes don’t have to be action packed, just tension packed. Keep those ping pong balls bouncing around to stir up the pace. Here’s a scene from book four, The Mercenary and the Shifters of our series, The Turning Stone Chronicles, to give you an idea of fast pace.

My home is perfectly safe. It’s my business I’m concerned about.”

Fiona crossed her arms over her chest, her body language closing off to further suggestions. Mike followed her motions. As he did, he spotted a red dot on her chest. The dot wiggled.

“Get down!” Mike shouted as he dove for Fiona.

They hit the floor as the pottery on the raised fireplace hearth exploded, sending shards across the room. Mike shoved Fiona behind the nearest chair then scrambled across the rug to the blown-out window. Removing his gun from his back-of-the-waist holster, he peered over the windowsill. Seeing no one in the driveway, he swiveled around to check on Fiona. The red laser point danced around the room, searching for a target.

Mike followed the trajectory of the beam. The shot came from across the street in something high. He remembered seeing a tree house in the yard across the road from the mansion.

“Who lives across from you?” he asked.

“No one right now. The house is for sale.”

“I didn’t see a ‘For Sale’ sign.”

“We’re in an exclusive neighborhood. The HOA forbids sale signs.” Another shot rang out.

Mike whirled around in time to see Fiona’s head sticking out from behind the chair. The image of her head reflected in the fireplace mirror. “He’s using the mirror to target us. Do these curtains close?”

“Yes. The cord’s on the other side of the window.”

“I’m going to crawl under the window and close them. He’ll probably see my reflection in the mirror and start shooting, so stay hidden. As soon as the curtains close, crawl to the window as fast as you can and follow the wall to the entryway. Then get the hell out of the front of the house. Got it?”

“Got it.” Fiona’s voice quavered up the scale.

“You okay?”

“Scared, but okay.”

As Mike crawled along the floor, a volley of shots rang out. The remainder of the pottery displayed on the hearth shattered. When he reached the other side of the window, he yanked the drapery cord. The curtains billowed closed.

“Now, Fiona!” he shouted.

As she belly crawled across the floor, Mike held his breath. Bullets sprayed the room, punching through the heavy draperies, the shots veering from floor to ceiling.

Don’t ricochet! he commanded.

Fiona reached the cover of the exterior wall, and he let his breath out in a whoosh.

“Hurry!”

When she came within arm’s reach, he grabbed her hand and yanked her the rest of the way across the room and into the entry.

“Do you have a panic room?”

She nodded, her eyes filled with fear. “In the basement, behind the trophy wall.”

“Get in it, and don’t come out until I tell you to.”

“Where are you going?”

“To get the SOB who’s trying to kill you.”

Now when your heart rate slows down how about checking out our books? C.D. Hersh–Two hearts creating everlasting love stories. Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after. They have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors. Plus their paranormal series titled The Turning Stone Chronicles. They are looking forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life. Stay connected with C.D. Hersh on social media:

Website

Soul Mate Publishing

Facebook

Amazon Author Page

Twitter


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6 Tips to Revise Your Writing by C.D. Hersh…

While we have been working in our (my wife’s) garden, between rainy days, cleaning up weeds, volunteer trees and leaves, we have been talking about cleaning up the two years’ worth of bird droppings and green mold from the railings and edges of our Trek decking. Our deck is a three-level beauty, designed by Catherine. The deck is a joy to sit on and a great place to entertain, but it’s a bear to clean. We have noticed the birds’ ‘gifts’ deposited on the railings and the mold creeping across the banisters, and meant to get out and take care of them, but other things got in the way. We got too busy, worked too hard, it got too hot to work on the deck, and we were just too lazy.

In retrospect, we should have paid more attention to what was happening, because we have let a minor job turn into a major one, once again. Oh, yes, we’ve faced this challenge before.

Last time we cleaned, we spent about five hours cleaning the railings and about two feet around the lower two decks, scrubbing, rubbing, and rinsing. We even cleaned some spots with a toothbrush! Then we cleaned the center of the two lower decks, the steps, and the balcony.

This cleaning exercise, that we have to do again, is a lot like revising a book—you have to take the time to get rid of all the crap you let accumulate. That’s every time you write.

We’re not saying our books, or even your books, are crap. We all write well, right? But it’s so easy to get lazy and let a lot of stuff slip in like passive voice, adjectives, groaning dialogue tags, purple prose, slow pacing, and way too much back story, until, like the railings of our deck covered in bird droppings, you can no longer see the beauty of your original creation. We don’t know about you, but we hate revisions and would rather do everything we can to get our books as clean as possible the first go around.

So, here are six tips we use to get the bird droppings out of our writing.

• Reread the previous days’ work. This not only gives a fresh look at your writing but also helps get back in the groove. If you’ve been away from a WIP more than few days you might even go back to the previous chapter. By revisiting each chapter, you get a head start on the small revision stuff.

• Write with grammar check turned on. You can set grammar check to highlight a lot of things, but the most important use we have found is to highlight passive writing. Having attuned yourself to those squiggle grammar check lines, the passive verbs are very clear to see. A glance tells where you need improvement in this area. Not every passive sentence can be revised into an active one, but many can and doing so will make your writing stronger.

• Do a search for “LY” on each chapter as you complete it. It’s amazing how many of those sneaky adjectives creep in.

• Look for long paragraphs. Too little white space on a page can often be a warning sign of heavy narrative, back story, or too much description.

• Check every page for tension. Donald Maas says we should have tension on every page. It doesn’t have to be bang ‘em up, slam ‘em up tension, but there needs to be something that keeps the story humming along.

• Do a check of dialogue. Are there too many “he saids” or “she saids.” Or are there too many lines with no dialogue or action tags? Have you gritted or laughed the dialogue? Teeth are gritted not words, and how in the world do you laugh words? We know we can’t.

These six items may seem like little steps toward revision, but sweating the small stuff now can make your major revisions easier. And who doesn’t want that?

What do you do as you write to help your revisions go faster?

Now here is a little about our paranormal series, The Turning Stone Chronicles.

Now here is a little about our paranormal series, The Turning Stone Chronicles.

Three ancient Celtic families. A magical Bloodstone that enables the wearers to shape shift. A charge to use the stone’s power to benefit mankind, and a battle, that is going on even today, to control the world. Can the Secret Society of shape shifters called the Turning Stone Society heal itself and bring peace to our world? Find out in the series The Turning Stone Chronicles.

The Promised One, book one:
When homicide detective Alexi Jordan is forced to use her shape shifting powers to catch a paranormal killer, she risks the two most important things in her life—her badge and the man she loves.

Blood Brothers, book two:
Shape shifter Delaney Ramsey’s daughter is missing, and she is bound by honor to protect the man she suspects of the deed. To bring him to justice, she must go against her code, the leader of the secret shifter society, and the police captain she is falling for.

Son of the Moonless Night, book three:
Thrust back into the world of paranormal huntress, Deputy Coroner Katrina Romanovski must unravel a string of murders she believes are vampire attacks. When she discovers the shape shifter she’s in love with is the murderer, she must reconcile her feelings for him, examine her life of violence against paranormals, and justify deceiving him in order to bring him to justice.

The Mercenary and the Shifters, book four:
A desperate call from an ex-military buddy lands a mercenary soldier in the middle of a double kidnapping, caught in an ancient shape shifter war, and ensnared between two female shape shifters after the same thing … him.

C.D. Hersh–Two hearts creating everlasting love stories.

Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.

The books of their paranormal romance series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles are available on Amazon. They also have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors. Also a standalone novella, Can’t Stop The Music, in a collection with thirteen other authors.

They look forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life.

Learn more about C.D. Hersh on their website and their Amazon Author Page.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Now here is a little about our paranormal series, The Turning Stone Chronicles.

Three ancient Celtic families. A magical Bloodstone that enables the wearers to shape shift. A charge to use the stone’s power to benefit mankind, and a battle, that is going on even today, to control the world. Can the Secret Society of shape shifters called the Turning Stone Society heal itself and bring peace to our world? Find out in The Series The Turning Stone Chronicles.

The Promised One, book one:
When homicide detective Alexi Jordan is forced to use her shape shifting powers to catch a paranormal killer, she risks the two most important things in her life—her badge and the man she loves.

Blood Brothers, book two:
Shape shifter Delaney Ramsey’s daughter is missing, and she is bound by honor to protect the man she suspects of the deed. To bring him to justice, she must go against her code, the leader of the secret shifter society, and the police captain she is falling for.

Son of the Moonless Night, book three:
Thrust back into the world of paranormal huntress, Deputy Coroner Katrina Romanovski must unravel a string of murders she believes are vampire attacks. When she discovers the shape shifter she’s in love with is the murderer, she must reconcile her feelings for him, examine her life of violence against paranormals, and justify deceiving him in order to bring him to justice.

The Mercenary and the Shifters, book four:
A desperate call from an ex-military buddy lands a mercenary soldier in the middle of a double kidnapping, caught in an ancient shape shifter war, and ensnared between two female shape shifters after the same thing … him.

C.D. Hersh–Two hearts creating everlasting love stories.
Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.

The first four books of their paranormal romance series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles are available on Amazon. They have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven authors. Also a standalone novella, Can’t Stop The Music, in a collection with thirteen other authors.

They are looking forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life.

You can connect with and follow C.D. Hersh at their website, or on Facebook: and Twitter.