Monday, October 15, 2012

Get Your Writing Noticed: Pace – what keeps us reading

Re-blogged with permission  from Laurence O'Bryan.  Leave a comment below.

Image: The Jerusalem Puzzle cover art on sale 1/ 3/ 13 
I posted last  on theme, and it is critical, but even if you have a great theme you have to keep people reading. To do that your writing needs to have pace.

So what is pace? Pace is movement. Pace is driving forward. Pace is action.

If you spend too much time on exposition, back story and detail then you are going to lose pace. Getting the balance right is the tricky part with pace. Consider your genre and your style as you use the following techniques for adding pace to your manuscript.

I once had the letters RUE above my laptop screen. They were put there to remind me to Resist the Urge to Explain. I used to explain who this person was in my stories, why that person did something and where the others were going later. Now I don’t. Explanations are boring. In the 21st century readers want action. They want novels that zip along. They don’t need to know what the characters had for breakfast.

Another technique for keeping the pace moving is by having a real plot. Shakespeare did this. People get killed, people have fights, people make speeches to skulls. Something happens. You need to have a plot where something happens. I know there was a 20th century literary fashion for stories where nothing happens, but if you want a big readership something has to happen.

The next technique is called in media res. This simply means starting in the middle of the action. Don’t start your story with a lot of exposition, backstory or filler about who your character is, where he came from or why she is there. Start with the gunshot that changes her life, or at the hospital where her mother is dying, or at the club where she sees her boyfriend dancing with her best friend.

So we have three techniques for keeping the pace moving: RUE, plot and in media res. Stick to these and your story will have pace.

This post is the fourth on a voyage exploring the world of getting your writing noticed.
 In the next post, I will cover the area of emotion, making your readers feel something.
Please leave feedback, make suggestions and engage. This series of posts needs you to get involved to make them fly.

If you would like to discuss this post or for me to review your writing and give brief feedback without charge (page 1 of your MS only please) contact me by email:
I will refer to my agent in London, with a recommendation, the best submission I receive between now and the end of this series of posts .

Here are some links to useful information for writers:
The Seven Most Useful Books for Writing Fiction if you want great writing books for my blog on using social media to get noticed.
The reality of being published – 2 months after my first book came out all over the UK I wrote this post
The Accessible Author – how the author’s role is changing
Frantic Editing – a post on the editing process my first novel went through in the summer of 2011

Finally, a big thank you to all my readers, everyone who comments and everyone who visits. I hope you find this information useful on your journey to getting your writing noticed.
Please comment, link to, tweet,  or mention this post. There are links to do that above and below..

Born in the Mountains of Mourne in County Down, Northern Ireland, Laurence O’Bryan was educated in Dublin, studying English and history, then business, then IT at Oxford University.

He spent ten years working in the city of London where he met his wife. In 2000 after his daughter was born, he and his family returned to Dublin. In 2007 he won the Outstanding Novel award from the Southern California Writer’s Conference (one of 300 submissions) for The Istanbul Puzzle, his debut novel. His second novel The Jerusalem Puzzle will be published by Harper Collins in 2013. Contact Laurence at:, His books may be purchased from Amazon and anywhere books are sold.

Leave feedback, make suggestions and engage.
comment here, tweet, link, and share this blog from links above.


Ruby Johnson said...

I love the RUE comment. I've got it taped on the top of my desk. Thanks for such a nice way of showing us what to do.

Business Strategy Consulting said...

Thank you for a very informative advise on how to make my writing get noticed. This will really help me apply when making my articles.

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