I saw Jason Thompson (the Viz JoJo editor) at Sakuracon at his booth and recognized his name from my Viz JoJo volumes like the damn creeper for jojo that I am, and asked him a question about the few name changes and he said I could share the answer.
“Thanks to a generation of massive amounts of standardized testing, our students conceive education primarily as a tool for determining a ranking. The Obama administration’s policy is even called Race to the Top. We have the most read columnist in the country telling us how important it is to raise “standards” so our students don’t fall behind.
For our students’ entire lives we have communicated that the reason to learn things is not to fulfill curiosities, but to see where you stack up relative to others. Grades are no longer a proxy for learning, but a lap time determining how well they’re doing at achieving a secure financial future. Under this system, a “B” is genuine cause for distress. A “C” is a disaster that points towards a ruined life.
At the same time, we have made it increasingly difficult to pay for a genuine education. The burden of loans threatens to strangle adult lives before they really begin. It is now impossible to work your way through college. Concerns over even paying for college are also at an all-time high. We communicate that a college degree is more important than ever and then make it more difficult to achieve.
Students look at the larger culture and see not a ladder of opportunity, but a treadmill of obligation. No wonder they’re distressed.”—
This week I wrote about 5 common story problems and how to fix them. I talked about pacing, but didn’t really go into how to fix pacing issues. If there seems to be something wrong with the “flow” of your novel, it probably has something to do with your pacing. The pace of your novel can be VERY important because there needs to be a proper order to the things that happen. There has to be some sort of connection from event to event and it has to make sense to your readers. I’m not saying you have to do everything “by the book”, but the structure of your story has to have an order to a flow to it that keeps your readers interested. You can’t have the first two pages full of action and then nothing interesting for a very long time.
Here are a few ways to create an intelligently paced novel:
Make sure your opening scene has some “bite” to it.
You want your readers to immediately be interested in your work, so your first chapter must catch their attention. The opening scenes are crucial and they deserve a lot of your attention. You want your readers to be interested in what’s next. If you can’t hook your readers from the beginning, it will be hard to keep them reading. I wrote a lot about first characters, so check out theseposts.
Know every story needs some ups and downs.
Not everything in your story should be the end of the world and not everything should be GREAT all the time. If your story has no conflict, there’s no point in telling your story. You need to space out ups and downs in order to create tension and keep your readers interested. Pacing also depends on what type of story you’re telling. The pacing of a thriller will be different from the pacing of a dystopian novel. Know what you’re writing and become familiar with the genre.
Delay the outcome of some events.
You do not want to present a problem and then have it resolved two pages later. This DESTROYS all tension. Your story thrives on your readers wanting to know what happens next and they will not stay interested if you tell them right away. Prolonging outcomes actually creates tension and interest because your readers will keep going so they can find out what happens. They will NEED to know what happens before they can put your book down.
Choose your words wisely.
Shortening your sentences and getting rid of unnecessary adverbs and adjectives will help quicken the pace of your novel and make your readers more interested. Using language that bogs down your novel will kill the tension and ruin the pacing. Only use the words you need and don’t be afraid to cut scenes that bog your writing down. You’ll see a huge improvement.