Writing Ramblings: Pacing and Characterization

Lately, I’ve been posting negative posts. What not to do, the things I learned from the books I hated. But today, I’m going to throw ya’ll through a loop by talking about some positives.

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I guess I should give credit where credit is due. I wrote this post after finishing The Shining by Stephen King, and I’ll be honest. I adore Stephen King. He’s one of my favorite writers, so naturally he’s someone I tend to “learn” from.

Anyway, without further ado…

  1. Pacing can be everything. I mean, most of us probably already know this. Pacing is important. If it’s too slow, your readers will stop reading. Too fast and your characters are unrealistic and your plot’s too wild. But pacing can impact your audience’s emotions. It can create tension, especially when you’re trying to scare them. Slow down, drag it out, make them anxious by making them wait, letting them know something bad is about to happen. If your looking for a good scene that does this, check out The Shining and read the chapter when Danny goes into Room 217.
  2. Love all your characters and never “side” with them. Jack Torrance is a dick, but Stephen King doesn’t let us forget that he’s human. King doesn’t hate him and doesn’t “side” against them, despite how horrible some of his actions are. He understood Jack as a person and he found something he liked about him, something he could relate to. As writers, we can’t “side” with our characters. It can make our writing sound preachy, our heroes perfect, and our villains caricatures. If we like all of our characters, if we see them all as human, then we aren’t going to purposely make someone look bad just because he or she is the villain. We’re going to make them whole.
  3. Naturally, narrators can be a little biased, especially when we write in third-person limited or first person. We’re going to see other characters through their eyes, and that means we aren’t seeing things for what they really are. We are experiencing their interpretation of a person. But a good writer can leave little clues here and there to let us know that maybe there’s more to that person than what our narrator sees.
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