The Push and Pull of Pacing

Revising a story offers challenges on all kinds of fronts and I find those challenges differ depending on the manuscript. With MS:D, I’m finding the largest challenge is finding that sweet spot in pacing the action that’s taking place. This week was all about finessing the chapters and scenes to find the right balance.

I am closing in on the end of act two in this manuscript and the characters are really wanting to amp up the pacing. They know where they’re going and while they don’t know what is waiting for them as they move along to get there, they are eager to go. This week was so much of me revising the action to slow down the pacing and give the beats of each scene a moment to happen before the characters were pulling me to move forward. I wrote a whole new chapter this week that saw our characters come face to face with a situation they haven’t yet. The way the action there and the interaction changed the characters is going to deepen what happens in the last act of the story. This interaction in the new chapter gives more reason and drive for the way the characters are going to react when they do. It’s really one of my favorite parts of revising a manuscript and honestly what inspires me when I feel like I’m dragging. Those moments where I wrote a thing, but didn’t really explore what that thing was the first time around. Taking the time and space in the revision process to inspect the moment, explore the action within it, and write more of the details I missed the first time around is like entering a dark room and flicking on all the light switches I didn’t know were there before. It makes sense, because the first draft really is all about fumbling around in the dark of this new world that has never existed on paper before and bringing it to life. The second time around, we get to enter the world anew and explore the rooms we only wrote the door to before. I spent a lot time last week exploring and in that exploration, creating a much steadier pace in my story-telling.

I ended last week about 10,000 words away from my main character’s ‘darkest night of the soul’ and I am so excited to go through it with her in this revision. I know so much more about her and about why the characters around her are going to do what they’re about to do. That part, the understanding of the other’s motivations around her, is what is making this revision such a richer version of the story. It’s helping me add and understand the layers behind the story and I’m able to better add them into the manuscript. Much as I wanted to be close to finishing this draft of the manuscript by the end of this week, I’m going into it about four chapters behind where I thought I would be. I wrote about 6,000 words last week, and almost half of those were new words, so I’m feeling good about where I’m at and how the story is coming together. And, much as I may want to follow my character’s lead and amp up the pacing to get to the third act quickly, I also know that doing that would not serve the story well. I need to do what I did last week and keep going at a steady pace so I don’t miss anything and the story can continue to build into this new, beautiful version of itself. I want to make sure I stay the course and savor each step of this story, especially as I approach these moments that the draft has been building toward since the first chapter.

In case you haven’t been told today, you are more than enough.

Happy Writing!

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