Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dramatic Tension and Pacing

I've been on a real roll this month. I've written close to 14K words, and I still have two more writing sessions planned before the end of April. I should come close to 16K words, which, I think, is the most I've ever written in one month. The book is starting to come to a close, and I'm estimating about 80K words for the first draft. If I can keep up the pace, I'll finish it next month.

I've been a bit slow this week because I had to go back and add an entire scene. Keep in mind that, although I have written a couple of novels in the past, they were a long time ago. I'd never been in business, and I didn't think about things like "commercial viability." I wrote what I wanted to write and hoped an editor would like it. I'm certain when I go back to look at those early novels, I'll see that they are lacking the punch that would make them successful.

I do know something now about what makes people read and enjoy books, but I'm still learning. The best way to learn what works is to read books in my genre, and I've been listening to The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. They are also urban fantasy and are fairly close to what I am writing. If you like his series, you'll probably like mine. What Butcher is very good at is dramatic pacing. He knows when to break up exposition with having a bad guy kick in the door and launch into a fight scene. Last week, I was listening to him as I was VERY slowly driving on I395, and, fortunately for my sanity, the bad guys showed up and Harry Dresden had to kick some supernatural butt.

That got me thinking. How many fight scenes or other scenes with dramatic tension did I have in my book? I realized I didn't have enough, and then I went over the book to figure out where I could add one. I found a spot and added a scene where Paul and Dafydd have to fight off three werewolves. I'm pretty pleased with it. My challenge with fight scenes is figuring out how to use Dafydd. He's not a combat mage, but I don't want to have him sit on the sidelines and have Paul do his thing. I'm happy with what I came up with, and we'll see if my beta readers agree.

The downside of adding a major scene like that is going back to incorporate references to it throughout. A scene like that doesn't happen in a vacuum. It has consequences, and working that out has taken some time. But what's really good is that I think I have an idea of where my final scene will happen. Now I need to travel to the scuzzy side of DC (with a friend) to find just the right location for my finale.

I'm excited to be getting close. But I'm not so excited about the coming editing part. Writing is way easier than editing!

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