The Journal, Friday, 4/28

Hey Folks,

Well, the first reader for “How Hard the Ground” enjoyed it, so it goes to market today.

Of course, he’s alone with me often, miles from anywhere, way out in the desert. And he knows how well I can shoot.

So that might have had a lot to do with his positive report. (grin)

But I’ll take it.

Topic: The Two Levels of Pacing

If you’ve been following me or my work for any length of time, you know I enjoy studying and applying pacing.

Overall, pacing means doing things to make the reader move through the book very fast when you want him to (action scenes) and doing things to make him slow down (rest) when and where you want him to (lunch or a day off for a picnic with the family or something).

There are a lot of tricks to that overall story pacing. Shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs and less dialogue, for example, for a fast-paced scene. The reverse, pretty much, for a slower-paced scene.

But here I want to talk about the second level of pacing. What I call Internal Pacing. Pacing inside an action scene.

Even in the midst of high-tension action scenes, the POV character notices things he wouldn’t ordinarily notice.

Realizing and understanding that and letting it come through your story will add another level of reality.

Plus it’s a ton of fun if you enjoy being inside your POV character’s head. And you should.

This is the point where you get to work with nuances. For that reason, these are the scenes to which I most often cycle back to let my character add detail when necessary. The POV character is in the heat of battle.

And you have to balance the bang-bang action with a description of the setting. (This is from within the character, remember.)

And the description isn’t normal either. This is what the character sees, hears, smells, tastes and so on while his senses are in that heightened, adrenaline-fueled state.

If you’ve ever been in a car accident or other high-tension situation, you know what I mean.
It’s as if visual and auditory representations of what’s going on come to you in stop-action, frame-by-frame pictures and sounds.

For a quick example, say you’ve come to a complete stop behind a flatbed truck that’s stopped at a stop sign.

His right turn signal is on.

You look to the left and see that nothing’s coming.

The guy in the truck lets off his brake and begins forward, so you let off your brake, assuming he’s going to turn.

But for some inexplicable reason, he brakes again and stops.

And you brake again, probably hard. But the road is covered with ice.

You know you’re going to slide forward and hit that ominous thick, flatbed truck and there is nothing you can do about it.

Still, you feel your eyes grow larger, you feel your grip tighten on the steering wheel, you feel yourself pressing harder on the brake.

And you see the hood of your car inching inexorably closer and closer to the ugly steel bumper on the back of the truck.

Everything slows down to a crawl during that intervening second or two. And then BAM, the hood of your car crumples and you’re back to real time.

Now, does describing the setting inside an action scene slow the action?

No. It adds a great deal of depth (and reality) to the action rather than glazing over the surface of it.

As always, questions and comments are welcome.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out actually at a little after midnight. Sometimes that’s how things work out.

I busied myself with email etc., then took a few pictures soon after first light.

Around 9:30 I moved out to the Hovel and started a new story.

11, a break and up to the house. My brain’s working a little slower today.

12:18… well, that “break” turned into a whole thing. I ordered something for my grandson through Amazon. Amazon sent me an email saying it was delivered 2 days ago. Um, no, it wasn’t.

So I went to the PO. (“Do you have a tracking number?”)

So I went home, got my computer, and went back to the PO.

They looked up the tracking number. Said the package was delivered to MY address in St. David (my town) but after that, in Litchfield Park, up near Phoenix.

My PO got on the phone with the LP PO. Guy said it was delivered.

Wonderful. So I’m out $10.

I went to Amazon, left “feedback” for the place that sold me what I ordered, then went to Ebay and ordered the same thing. It cost a little more, but it will be here in three days. And Amazon can bite me. (grin)

12:30, back to the story.

1:30, finished the story at exactly 1900 words. How weird is that? Plus it’s a weird story.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

“Story Twenty-Seven in Twenty-Seven Days” at Not a lot in this one.

See “A Novel Challenge” at This is a really cool challenge. If you’ve ever wanted to push yourself and get expert feedback (possibly free), this is your chance.

Fiction Words: 1900
Nonfiction Words: 880 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2780

Writing of Suction Cups (short story)

Day 1…… 1900 words. Total words to date…… 1900 (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… 35487
Total fiction words for the year………… 244043
Total nonfiction words for the month… 16530
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 73870

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 317913

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 520 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (16 novels)… 5 novels
Total novels to date (since Oct 19, 2014)… 27 (includes 3 novellas)

2 thoughts on “The Journal, Friday, 4/28”

  1. Oh, yeah. That heightened awareness of the details is so true, plus you can lose track of some details as well. I was on a motor scooter and hit by a car when I was in my 20s. The driver didn’t see me and made I left turn in front of me. I hit the hand brakes as hard as I could and saw this car getting closer and closer.

    Next thing I know, I’m on the ground nearby on my knees and it hurt! Apparently I ejected myself off the bike right before impact. No memory of this.

    • EXACTLY! And if that ever appears in one of your stories, that’s exactly how the POV character would write it up. Did your eyes get big? Do you feel the stress in your knuckles and fingers and maybe the heel of your hand as you squeeze the hand brakes? And the car got closer and closer and then– How did I get here? Kneeling on the roadway? 🙂 And it doesn’t water down the tension at all. It simply swirls in the physical with the mental/emotional. Excellent example. Thanks!

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