Hi guys! As always, most of your lesson is in the video, so give it a whirl. By the way, the background noise would be--you guessed it--my kids. Lol! Enjoy. Next week's lesson will be on character development and really digging into and developing amazing characters your readers will remember for years. :) Who's your favorite author and why? Tell me below. Later, I'll be doing a contest and the winners will be drawn by the people who comment and participate in class. You'll want to win this contest... I promise. *grins* (I'll tell you more about it in a couple of weeks.)
So onto pacing. First off, narration (where you tell us what's happening) or inner monologue/diaolgue (where the main character is thinking to themselves) is really tough to get right. In this scene from Pride & Popularity, I had to get Chloe through her first date and then onto her disaster date in one day. The first date, had to be memorable enough to believe she really went on one, but not actually shown. I used a lot of Narration for this and a tiny bit of inner monologue/diaolgue to tell about that first date and basically zoom past it, keeping it light and entertaining so I could really get to the second date with Collin. The disaster date. The one that mattered, since Collin is a crucial character. So really watch how I speed through... and then begin to slow it down, all the sudden before you know it you're actually in the room with Chloe and feeling her emotions.
Example 1--Pride & Popularity, Chapter 9 Dating Fumbles:
Jacob clearly had a great time. He thought it was funny when I screamed. I’m not so sure the people who sat in front of us thought so, however. Since every time I screamed out in fear, I made them jump. Yes, sad but true. That is me. I am the person you can hear in the movie theater that yells or screams so loudly it actually scares everyone else. That’s when people in front of you can get a little bit hostile.
Needless to say, Jacob and I both survived the ordeal, which is obvious, or I wouldn’t be telling about it now. Then I had to go on my date with Collin, where I spent the entire evening wishing I were anywhere else—even if it was back in that scary movie with Jacob and the scarier people in front of us.
I knew the date with Collin would be a disaster from the get-go. I mean, it’s completely evident that you have an odd date when the guy actually asks you out through your mother. But does he have to sit there in public and continue to be odd? Pardon me, but I thought the reason you took a girl out on a date was so you could get to know her a little more, not so you can play with your phone all night, studiously avoiding her.
I let out yet another silent sigh as I watched my finger twirl around the rim of my glass of lemon water. We had ordered our food a few minutes ago, but I knew it would be a wait due to the amount of people there. The Lion’s Den is only the nicest restaurant in our city—which figured, since Taylor’s dad, Lionel Anderson, owned the place, just one of his many business ventures. I was a bit surprised at first when Collin pulled into the parking lot. It actually made me have some respect for him that he had thought to make reservations.
With another sigh, I moved my hand from the glass and began to refold the creases in my linen napkin again. The other customers all around me were having a marvelous time as they laughed and enjoyed each other’s company.
With regret, I looked across the table at Collin and watched his face light up as he read another email from one of his online friends. I wasn’t sure he had any real friends, just online ones. Collin laughed. He must’ve read a joke. He really does have a nice smile.
Example 2--Now in this one, I've actually gone in and broken it up, so you can really watch how one scene can speed up and slow down to catch just the right amount of pacing to move the story along. This is one of my most favorite scenes from Northanger Alibi.
Northanger Alibi Chapter 13/14:
“Six and seven?” I beamed. “Oh my gosh. How cute is that? You coach first graders?”
Tony nodded his head and chuckled. “They’re really cool, too. Some of those little guys can run almost as fast as me.”
Aww. I could just picture him running on the field with them. Gauging his expression, I could tell he really loved being with them. “So, what’s your team’s name?”
Tony glanced down and shook his head. “I didn’t come up with it—believe me—the whole team had a say. I got outvoted.” He laughed. “We’re the Bumble Bees.”
The Bumble Bees? As in bzzz—bzzz?”
“Yeah.” He snorted and then imitated a little kid’s voice. “‘It’s ’cuz we have gots a stinger and stingers hurts.’”
“Didn’t you tell them that once they sting someone, they die?”
“Ah, man. I should’ve thought of that. Where were you when I needed you?”
I chuckled. “So, what team are you playing against?”
“Uh, today that would be the Fighting Ninja Warriors.”
What? I burst into laughter.
“Yeah, I’m totally expecting to get our butts kicked.” He laughed with me. “Something tells me Fighting Ninja Warriors aren’t afraid of little Bumble Bees.”
“Ya think?” I giggled again. I couldn’t help it.
“You want to know the worst part?” His eyes playfully sparkled into mine a second.
“Yep.” He nodded and focused back on the road. “Our uniforms are purple.”
“Purple bees?” I bit back a grin. “Purple bees can be cute.”
“Yeah, if you’re a Care Bear, maybe.”
That was it—I lost it. I totally cracked up all over again. Tony was seriously so cute. He kept me giggling the whole way to the soccer field. It was amazing, the direct contrast between him and Jaden.
Man, I should’ve never gone with that wolf! I could’ve already seen the Bumble Bees play, if I hadn’t. Besides, who wouldn’t love to hang out with a vampire all day? Especially if he was as cute as Tony.
Since he was the assistant coach, and expected to be early, we were the first ones on the field. I unloaded the cones while Tony hauled out the big net of balls he had stashed in his trunk. It only took a few moments to get the cones set out and the soccer balls freed and lined up for the children.
Tony was teaching me a few dribbling tricks with the ball when the kids started to show up. He was super good—his feet were so quick and light, by the time my feet would make it to where I’d seen the ball, it was already gone. I really didn’t want to stop, but the kids had other ideas. They were way too excited to see Tony.
As they came on the field, they raced right over and started ganging up on him, each little guy eager to be the one who stripped the ball from him. Tony laughed and ran all over the field, just barely keeping the ball in front, with loads of kids chasing from behind. It was easy to see that this was a warm-up game he played with them all the time. Everyone was laughing, and some of the parents egged the kids on.
“Come on, Max! Get ’im! Get Mr. Tony.”
“Kayla! The other way! Go the other way! Look, Mr. Tony’s comin’ up behind you!”
“Go, Justin! You can do it! Get the ball from Mr. Tony!”
SLOW DOWN: I decided it was my turn. “Run, Mr. Tony! Run!” I shouted loud enough to be heard over the parents’ laughter and shouts as I climbed up to sit on the bleachers.
Tony must’ve heard me because he whipped his head up and smiled the cutest smile I’d ever seen just before a little girl rammed right into him, causing him to trip over the ball and send him sprawling onto the field.
“Ahhhh!” It became a mad chaos of chuckles and whoops as the kids all tackled him in one large purple dog pile.
Tony finally emerged the winner, triumphant with the ball in his hand and children dripping from him. It was the most charming thing I’d ever seen. My heart practically burst from my chest with happiness.
Is there a more perfect guy on the planet? No way—it has to be him. Eeeh! And he’s smiling right at me.
It became all seriousness once the coach arrived and blew his whistle. The children and Tony jumped to attention immediately and jogged over to the man, who looked like he was in his early forties. Within seconds, the team was back on the field, and Tony was leading them through a series of proper warm-ups. Even that was super cute to watch.
Of course, it helped that every few minutes Tony would look up from what he was doing and grin at me.
Just before the game started, it was discovered that they were short a referee, so Tony quickly volunteered. He collected a black referee shirt and ran across the field up to the stand where I was sitting.
“Hey, can you hold this?” he asked, not even slightly winded. His eyes beamed mischievously up at me.
He is so hot. I bit my lip and looked down at him. “Hold what?”
Before I could blink, Tony whisked off his shirt right in front of me. Ahh! I glanced away as he leaned forward and tossed the other one over his head.
“Thanks,” he replied. He flung the shirt in my lap and climbed up the side of the bleachers, giving me a swift kiss on the cheek before dashing back out to the field again.
My hand flew to my cheek while my other one clasped the white coach uniform. I didn’t care that it was slightly damp. He’d just been wearing it! Once he’d made it out to the field again, Tony lightly ran backward a few steps and gave me a wink and a little salute before focusing solely on the game about to begin.
There was something almost magical about that game. Even though the Bumble Bees didn’t win, they weren’t upset or disappointed or anything. In fact, every one of the little guys got a special hug and a high-five from Tony at the end. He also made a point to exclaim in the coolest older brother voice I’d ever heard, “Man, you rocked! You are the best soccer player in the whole world!”
Every kid heard the same thing. And they knew he told them all the same thing—they were standing right there—but they didn’t care. They knew they were special, and that Tony loved them. I could tell that was all that mattered. I’d never seen so many happy, excited faces run home after a losing game—but it made me think, really think. Just who are you, Tony Russo? How can one guy capture the hearts of so many people around him? And does your heart have room for one more? All at once, I wanted to be a part of Tony’s life—that is, if he’ll let me.
Thank you so much for reading my lesson on pacing. I hoped it helped you understand a bit more and see where you can apply this to your own writing. Also, if you'd like to receive these lessons straight to your inbox every Saturday, then sign up to my protected email list on the right. --Jenni