Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Pace yourself....

Thrillerfest is coming up this weekend and I find myself on a panel regarding pacing. That is, pacing in a novel; not the kind you do around your desk waiting for the muse to visit you so you can finish that problematic chapter.

The talented Rick Mofina is the moderator for our panel and he asked each of us to come up with a question or two about pacing. So I sat back in my chair and realized, I know nothing about pacing!

Geez, maybe I should call in sick or something. What the hell is pacing anyway? I’m pretty new to this whole writing thing – not sure what I can contribute here. Then I realized that my reaction is the typical reaction for most writers when they are asked to be on a panel. They freak out. Their brain goes numb. They become deer frozen in the headlights.

So after breathing into a paper sack for five minutes, I’m calm enough to realize I do know something about pacing. But I don’t know how to describe it. Back to the paper bag, and after another six minutes, I’m calmed enough to realize I do know how to describe it.

Pacing is what pulls you through the book.

Wow. That’s good Mark. Sufficiently vague to sound like you know what you are talking about.

See, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Us writers really don’t know what we are talking about most of the time. We tell stories for a living for pities sake. We make shit up. You gonna believe a guy that makes shit up for a living? Alright then, if you come to our panel, be prepared for some more obscure crap like the line above. Because in the end, writers are better at writing than explaining how they write. If we were better at explaining ourselves than writing, then we’d be politicians. Write your own punchline.


Keith Raffel said...

See you there, big guy!

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

"We make shit up." Not only have I said that myself many times, but I'm considering putting it on my resume and business cards.

But you are on to something here, Mark. Pacing IS what pulls you through a book. It's what keeps the pages turning without the annoyance of speed bumps, tripwires and mud bogs.

Have a great time at Thrillerfest!

Joe Moore said...

I'll be there to cheer you on, Mark. Just remember to pace yourself.

Bill Cameron said...

You could have a sign made for the door:

Making Shit Up Since 1982"

Or whenever. For me, it was shortly after I started to talk that I starting making shit up, but I didn't realize there was a semi-reputable way of making shit up called "writing" until years later.