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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Endings - Part 1: Pacing Yourself

Hello, readers. This is a new experiment, a two-part post over the next two weeks. As I come to the end of a new book, I found myself experiencing and pondering the mechanics of being an author who is coming towards the end of a story. I've been working on this since December last year, and not withstanding self-publishing three other titles since then, it's been a difficult run. But now I'm approaching the end of the road, and that's the time you've got to be most careful.

This post is about, as the title probably informed you, pacing yourself. This is something I haven't actually seen talked about that much in blogs or other such writers' help articles. It's about creating stories, maintaining a positive outlook, getting and handling agents and publishers. Never about something that can prove a writer's downfall: writing too quickly.

You may have a chapter thoroughly formed in your head, especially if you've been working up to it across upwards or twenty or thirty other chapters. It's the denouement, or a major turning point in the story. An event you have been visualizing and planning for who knows how long. And then you're on the other side of a chapter, you're staring at it, and you can't believe you did it in such a short time. The day seemed to fly by. But what's the matter? Why am I so frizzled? It's because I've burnt myself out with my enthusiasm.

This is a problem that can sneak up on you like a serpent approaching its prey. It's only the next day, when you settle down to write again, that you can't write another word. All your energy has been poured into one thing, leaving no room for anything else. This applies to many things, but when you're trying to write a quality book, it's the very devil. When you go through it in proofreading, you realize the price you paid in quality. Misspelled words, clumsily-constructed sentences, mismatches in terminology, and a general feeling that it's the direction for a script. You need to go through it, and in the worse case it needs rewriting.

A means of getting round this is forcing yourself to pace your writing speed. I've found that three to five pages each day is a more than adequate means of balancing writing output with writing quality. It also enables you to remember things like in-book terminology, and keep each character's mindset and personality in mind so there are no classic gaffs of that variety. This means that, though you may be bursting at the seams to write the entire think in a few hours, you're able to preserve what is most important in a readable product: quality and pacing.

Of course, this is my opinion. Anyone can agree or disagree. It's just my own take on what I feel is an underappreciated and underrepresented problem for writers.

Next Week: Coming out of the other side, and facing the end of a beloved project...

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