The Best of the Thinking Quill – Pace

Dear Reader Who Writes,

First, the formalities, rendered necessary since I understand there may be a small handful of benighted individuals who have yet to encounter my work. To you, new readers who write, allow me to bestow upon you the honour of making my acquaintance. I am Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV, much feted and acclaimed author of the soon-to-be classic science fantasy novel, ‘Fatswhistle and Buchtooth’, which has been withdrawn from sale to allow other, lesser, authors a chance to gain some small measure of public acclaim.

As I was contemplating which thread I should next tease out from the weft and warp of the fine cloak woven by the daughters of Mnemosyne, to examine and explore with you, my beloved students, my gaze happened to alight upon a shelf in my writing room. This is one which is still home to some items that pre-date my conversion of the room from coal-hole to bijou literary cubby.

This item was a box which had once (and for all I know may still as I have no intention of investigating further) contained a pair of running shoes. Not mine, I of course hasten to reassure you, dear RWW. You would never see your respected pedagogue dressed up in skimpy shorts, panting and perspiring in the park. No, these were relics of an era when Mumsie still fondly craved the elusive illusion of youth before she allowed the sangria of summer to fade into an angostura bitters and advocaat autumn.

But if I close my eyes it is still impossible to banish the profoundly disturbing memory of her donning leggings and Walkman and heading off at a jog. I recall her return on most such occasions, red faced and smelling strongly. Usually gin, but sometimes whisky. And her triumphant proclamations: “All the way to the King’s Head today!’ On one occasion I asked her how she did it and her reply has haunted me down the years.

“Pace, Moons, pace. You have to know when to push it and when to give up, flop on the bar and have a drink.”

Which brings me neatly to today’s lesson.

How To Start Writing A Book – The Write Pace

Pace, dear RWW, is everything in your book. It is not about how fast you write or about how quickly your reader reads – no it is about the speed at which you unfold the glories of you world, the wonders of the people who inhabit it and the intricacy of the plot that binds them together.

As you can already see, this places pace at the very heart of your writing – you can imagine it as a pacemaker inserted within that heart to keep it beating strongly and steadily throughout your story. Strongly and steadily. Yes, that, my pupil in penmanship, is the secret. Too many authors fall into the trap of thinking that pace is something to vary. That to speed up and slow down is the epitome of good pacing. But, of course, they are flawed thinkers to so conclude.

Always remember, this is your literary endeavour, your creation, your magnum opus! It needs the powerful and stately beat of a steady drum to allow you to explore every detail in depth. BOOM! The slow unfolding of the scene where all is set. BOOM! The introduction of each character, allowing the reader the chance to know them through their intricate and individual back stories, written in rich detail. BOOM! The slow dawning of a story, but not too fast. Allow many things to happen first to show off the world and showcase your characters within it, so the reader is fully immersed in both world and characters before you profane their minds with anything of note. Let it sneak up on them unawares that there is indeed a plotline.

This is the secret of pacing, ingest it into your soul so it may spew forth in your writing.

Until next.

Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV

You can find more of IVy’s profound thoughts in How To Start Writing A Book courtesy of E.M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago.

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