3 Things to Think About when Pacing Your Novel

Guest post by author Robison Wells

Just like there’s no one “right” way to write a book, there’s no one “right” way to pace a novel. Sometimes you need to move slower and sometimes you need to move faster. It’s a balancing act that depends a great deal on your genre, style, voice, and intent. I tend to write thrillers, which are very fast paced, with only the occasional pause to catch your breath. On the other hand, historical fiction and epic fantasy might move at a much slower pace. In this article I want to talk about a three tools you can use to speed up or slow down your novel.

Character Goals: The 4 Gears that Drive Your Story

Guest post by author J. Scott Savage

Several years ago, I was working on the second book of a mystery series. The plot revolved around a man who appeared to be murdered over and over. My main character, a young reporter, was drawn into a series of scenes where she witnessed the man die in an explosion, a fire, and by falling off a balcony.

The main character was one I had used before and knew well, the plot felt interesting, the settings were sufficiently creepy. But the story just wasn’t working. I went over and over the same twenty pages, wondering what I was doing wrong, when, all at once, the problem became clear.

We were several chapters into the story and, while my reporter had witnessed several exciting events, she wasn’t doing anything about them. The MC was reacting, not acting, and as a result there was nothing for the reader to root for. As soon as I put her into action trying to solve the crimes, everything clicked into place.

The Rhythm of Setting

One of the most common problems I see from beginning writers is that they either have too much description, which drags on for paragraphs or even pages, or they have too little, and I’m left to experience a story about characters in empty space. Finding that middle ground between too much and too little is vital for establishing a vivid sense of place. Just like everything else in writing, it’s an acquired skill.

Creating Living People: The Art of Relatable Characters

Guest post by author Preston Norton

Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.” Now, that’s all well and good, but not all of us can be Hemingway, winner of the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize and such. Let’s be honest, we’re not that smart. So, how exactly does one create living people? What Hemingway means, of course, is that they need to feel like living people. They need to evoke something inside of us, something that speaks of the human experience. This is important for almost all characters, even the inhuman ones. Why?

Because if we can’t relate to these characters, why should we care?

Elements of Conflict: A Recipe for Tension


Conflict is the life blood of a story. It’s not something you can will onto the page; it’s a byproduct of meticulous planning, of adding multiple ingredients together in just the right way. Conflict is  what makes your reader turn the page, and the next, and the next without realizing they’ve spent three hours reading and are half way through your book. But how do you get there? How do you develop the skills to add said ingredients in just the right way?

Introducing The Manuscript Essentials Series


Is My Manuscript Ready?

Welcome to the Writers’ Clearinghouse community! We’re glad you’re here, and hope you enjoy our first-ever blog post and the following series on mastering the craft of writing.

Writing is hard. Don’t get me wrong—anyone can do it (and everyone should, but that’s a different topic for a different time). But very few can craft a great novel without help. Even if you have a brilliant idea, it is a long journey from there to a polished manuscript. And that’s not a bad thing—even writing a bad draft is a monumental achievement. On so many levels, writing challenges who you are as a person. It requires you to mold and shape your world view in ways you never have before. It requires dedication to finish something that takes so long and promises so little. But the truly difficult (and frustrating) part comes after you finish and have to ask yourself, “Is this ready?”