#TipTuesday: Pacing

“Pacing is not the sort of thing you can plan out beforehand, but you’re always aware of it as you write, because you need to make constant decisions.”

Jean Hanff Korelitz

One of the most important aspects of writing to me is pacing. However, I feel like it’s one of those topics that doesn’t get covered enough. As such, some people may not be familiar with the term.

Pacing, in regards to writing, is how quickly events occur to the reader. While changing how quickly things occur to the character can alter the pace, that’s only because the reader is seeing things through the eyes of the character. If things are happening to characters off-screen the pace isn’t affect nearly as much.

The pacing is challenging to balance because if you move too slow, a reader will most likely get bored, but going too quickly can lead to overwhelming the reader, who can’t process everything thing that has happened, or becomes emotionally drained from all the ups and downs with no rest.

A prime example of a pace that is too fast, for me at least, is Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. I’m typically a binge reader, but after three of Jim Butcher’s fast-pace magical detective novels, I was too tired to continue with the series. Don’t get me wrong, they have a wonderful plot and are a top seller for a reason, but they wear me out.

On the other hand, people may complain that Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has too slow of a pace. The events in the book happen so leisurely since the reader has to sift through a lot of conversations, setup, and just plain words. This causes most readers to drop the book before making it past a few chapters because they are utterly bored. (I happen to not be one of them as I love Pride and Prejudice.)

Pacing isn’t just about keeping the reader’s interest, however. Pacing is also about setting a mood. In my short story Beneath the Moonlight, I purposely start the pace slow in order to create a deeper feeling of foreboding and sadness. Then when one of the other characters jumps, I speed the pace up in order to create a feeling of panic (admittedly it’s a subtle increase, since I’m still trying to maintain the sober tragedy of the piece).

How to Change the Pace

Changing the pace can be done in a number of ways.

  1. Words. More words or bigger words that take longer to read can slow the pace, as the reader takes more time to take in the event. Conversely, less words or shorter words can speed the pace up.
  2. Timeline. You can simply have events occur in rapid succession inside the timeline of the story, or space events out. Giving the character downtime will give the reader downtime too in order to recuperate.
  3. Dialogue. Typically, dialogue will slow the pace down, but if you do it right it can also speed up the pace by rapidly changing the character focus.

There are a bunch of different other ways to manipulate pace, but these are my basic go-to’s.


50 Cell Phones

50 cell phones ring,
In a night club in Orlando,
Trying to reach 50 people,
Who will never come home.

America has a moment of silence,
Before the bickering begins,
All the while the families are in a nightmare,
That will never end.

I don’t know if you’ve watched the news,
In the last few years or so,
But the violence is escalating,
No sign of it to slow.

So let over 50 cell phones ring,
In all 50 states.
For every voice that was silence in that club,
Let the government know that we’re irate.

How can so many other countries,
Not have the same problem as ours?
What can we do differently,
To protect those in our hearts?

Stop demanding that we sit at home,
And pray that it goes away.
Because while we wait for miracles,
50 cell phones ring today.

Based on events as  described here: http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/12/us/orlando-shooting-as-it-happened/

How to help: http://time.com/4365295/orlando-shooting-pulse-nightclub-victims-help/

#PhotoPromptFriday: Peter Paul Rubens


Peter Paul Rubens is the famous artist behind the word “Rebunesque”, which is often used to describe a person’s form as “plump or rounded usually in a pleasing or attractive way” (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary). The above painting is one of his trademark portrayals of a woman’s figure, but that’s not why I chose this painting as today’s #PhotoPromptFriday.

For me, this picture is interesting because the man in the picture is an old man in shackles, and the two of them seem to be in a prison. It turns the initial impression of lewdness into a hidden story that I want to know.

Now, I did look up the story to this painting, which I will reveal next Friday with the winner of this painting’s #PhotoPromptFriday, and it’s a pretty cool one that eliminates all thought of naughtiness. I want you to come up with a story that explains the scene portrayed in this painting. Submit it via my #PhotoPromptFriday page, and you could be featured on my blog as the #PhotoPromptFriday winner of the week!

#PhotoPromptFriday: Henry Thomson’s “The mother finding her infant playing with the talons of the dragon slain by the Red Cross Knight”


This piece is Henry Thomson’s “The mother finding her infant playing with the talons of the dragon slain by the Red Cross Knight”. It’s a very long title, which tells you exactly what’s going on. However, I see more than that in this painting, and below is what I was inspired to write by this #PhotoPromptFriday.

Before I post that, however, I would like to announce the winner of this #PhotoPromptFriday, and that is….nobody. I don’t have too many people following my blog, which is to be expected since it’s new, and so no one entered the contest. Hopefully, the next #PhotoPromptFriday will be more inspirational!

Now, without further ado:

Youthful Ignorance
by Kenimich Row,
Inspired by Henry Thomson’s
“The mother finding her infant playing with
the talons of the dragon slain by the Red Cross Knight”

It must have been the moonlight that first gave the dragon away at the edge of the forest. He hadn’t moved for hours, and the wind blew towards him carrying his stench far from the hamlet. Still, the child noticed him, and even managed to sneak up on him, as the first he was aware of her she was licking his scales where they shimmered ever so slightly.

It was an odd sensation, being licked by a such a soft tongue. Being licked by any tongue, really. Dragons, being one of the largest creatures around, typically scared all the lesser creatures, and they definitely didn’t lick each other. But this tiny human cared neither of his size, nor the social niceties that insisted one dragon not link another. She also wasn’t a dragon, so perhaps those niceties didn’t exist between humans and dragons.

As the dragon contemplated what social niceties did exist between their species, the child looked up at his tongue which had curled outward in thought and giggled. With no restraint it reached up and grabbed the tongue. It then proceeded to groom itself with the dragon’s tongue, wiping it along the side of it’s face and hair. All the while it giggled.

The dragon was unsure how to react, but the giggling was infectious, so it decided to join in. The deep rumble that echoed through it’s throat startled the child into silence. It looked up into his eyes, and they stared at each other for a while.

Then the child giggled again.

The dragon rumbled back.

Thus their friendship was born. Giggling and rumbling, they played. The dragon would show the child some strange piece of itself, and then watch as the child reacted in ridiculous funny ways. The child’s favorite feature, it eventually became known to the dragon, was his talons. Though they were razor sharp on the ends, most of them were smooth and round. The child liked to run it’s hands over the hard surface and watch the stars reflect in their golden sheen.

Eventually, the dragon became aware of the sun rising, and insisted the child go home. The child was not yet of an age to communicate too well, but after many a push towards the Hamlet, she eventually got the idea. Waving furtively towards the dragon’s hiding spot near the woods, it hurried away.

It was about this time that a group of knights were entering the hamlet, and they noticed the child’s actions. Curious, they asked the child what it was waving at. The child just bent down, curled her hands in the shape of talons, and then growled. Then she giggled and fell over trying to stand back up.

The knights looked at each other worriedly, thinking they knew all too well what the child mimicked. As one they turned their horses and headed in the direction the child had been waving. The child tried to follow them, racing after their mounts in excitement, but one of the knights’ squire notice. He pulled back his reins and cut her off, giving her a stern look, and pointing in the direction of the town.

The child looked back the way the squire was pointing and then back towards the dragon. Her little finger pointed insistently after the night, and she whimpered in protest as the squire continued to stand in her way.

Eventually, the child grew angry and started to scream. An answering roar and burst of fire filled the air from the edge of the woods. The child’s giggling response turned into another scream as the squire dismounted and scooped her up, physically caring her in the opposite direction. More screams joined the child’s as the knights and dragon began to fight, and the dragon bellowed louder.

The squire ducked into the stone mill nearby and tried to stifle the child’s screams, but she only increased them, and the dragon’s roar increased with them. The dragon itself, however, remained unseen.

Eventually, the dragon’s roar stopped as the child grew tired of struggling. The day grew deathly quiet, and the squire waited. After the silence had stretch long enough, the squire grew impatient and exited the mill, leaving the tired child behind. He was greeted with the site of his knight maters returning wounded buy triumphant from battle.

“That dragon will never terrorize another town.” The knight wearing a red cross announced, and then indicated that the squire remount so that they could be on their way. They had wasted enough of their time in the hamlet already.

Once the knights were gone, the town began to come alive again. The townspeople who had been too scared to live their houses while the dragon bellowed came outside to assess the damage that had been done, and one young woman was looking for something deeply precious to her.

She found it near the forest, behind a tree which had been spared when the area had been cleared for use by the founders of the town. The child stood over the savaged corpse of a dragon, quietly playing with it’s claws.

#ThrowdownThursday: Beneath the Moonlight

Once again #ThrowdownThursday comes from /r/WritingPrompts. The writing prompt today was pulled from the top of the reddit feed.

[WP] You discover that you suddenly gain the ability to control anyone you’d like. However, their consciousness talks to you as you do so.

She was standing out on the balcony when I came in. I could feel the cold air as it swept through the apartment and follow it to her. She stood in her favorite red dress staring up at the night sky. The moon caused her skin to glow pale white, and the dress made her hair burn. Her lips, as she turned to me, were the color of fresh cherries, and her eyes shimmered beneath her long painted eyelashes. A single tear escaped as she spoke. 

“What am I going to do?” She hugged a piece of paper to her chest as more tears followed. Her breathing caught in a self-deprecating laugh as she attempted to smile. “You’re early.”

“I was too worried to wait,” I replied, and she let out a short hysterical burst of laughter. 

“I guess I should have known.” She sighed and held the paper out where she could see it. For a long moment she just stared at it, and I stared at her as my apprehension began to rise. 

“What does the paper say?” I finally asked.

She answered by offering it to me. I took a cautious step towards her, and then berated myself. As if anything I did now could make it worse. I closed the gap more confidently and retrieved the paper from her outstretched hand. 

At first my brain refused to comprehend the words, as if a sudden lack of understanding could make them untrue. Then everything began to make sense. 

My head snapped up to find her face, but instead met with her vibrant hair. She had returned to the balcony and climbed over the rail. Her form stood hanging over the ten-story drop calmly. 

She turned to look at me one last time, and  brought one hand to her lips to blow me a kiss. “Good-bye, my love. I didn’t want you here for this.” Her other hand loosened, and I felt the world stop. 

In that instant I could see my whole life shattering around me, and my mind violently rejected it. As my body ran to try and stop the inevitable, my mind mirrored it, reaching out to hers. 

“No! Don’t let go.” I screamed, and her hand tightened. I reached the balcony and pulled her back over. She didn’t fight. Instead, she spoke.

I have to go. Her voice reverberated through my mind. 

“We can work through this.” I pleaded.

It’s terminal. Her tone was soft and sympathetic, but I could feel the steel underneath. She had made her decision. 

“I’m not ready for you to go.” I could feel the river of tears running down my face. I rubbed my eyes to clear them. I needed to see her face. 

This isn’t about you. I’m in pain. Let me go.

“Then why did you hold on? You have to want to keep living. Otherwise you wouldn’t have listened to me. You never listen to me.” I placed my hand over hers in emphasis where she still held the railing. 

Because you made me, Roger.

It was only then that I noticed her lips didn’t move, and she hung limp in my arms. Her hand beneath mine was in a death grip on the railing. Even her eyes seemed hollow. 

But I could feel her in my mind, and that’s where her voice was coming from. 

Don’t take this away from me too. She begged. My chest tightened, and so did my arm around her. I buried my face in her neck, and a few more tears rolled down my checks. 

“That’s not fair. God, that’s a dirty trick.” Because that was the one thing I had promised I’d never do to her. That I’d never control her. 

But even as I told myself that I should let her go, plead with her while she was free to choose, another part of me gripped mentally tighter. I could keep her here, force her to stay until she changed her mind, until the doctors figured out how to fix it. 

Please. I want to go out while I’m still beautiful.

It was those quiet words, echoing in my mind, that finally made me release her. I closed my eyes, and tried to withdraw whatever mysterious hold my brain seemed to have on her. I felt the rigidity come back into her body, and then her arms wrapped around my neck. 

“I’m sorry.” She whispered, and then kissed my check. I could still feel the warmth of her lips as she slid out of my reach. I didn’t look up again. Not until I heard the screams from the sidewalk beneath the balcony. Then I looked towards the moon that mimicked the pale color of her skin. The moon that had been the only other witness to our farewell. 

I would never look at the moon the same again.


Origin Story: Ben Huberman’s Blog Challenge

This is in response to Ben Huberman’s Blog Challenge: Origin Story.

My mother and I have always bonded over books. As a child she would read them to me, and I fell in love with the stories. When she finally got too busy with college, I finished the book she was reading to me, Dragonquest by Anne McCaffery, and continued on into The White Dragon on my own.

But eventually the stories contained in books weren’t enough. I started writing fanfiction, even for school writing assignments. I would twist the world of other authors to include my own characters and then change the stories accordingly. Soon fanfiction couldn’t sate me either. I began creating my own worlds.

Thus began my life as a writer. Full universes have blossomed from my passion and imagination. My only hope is, when released into the world, that just one person comes to love these stories as much as I do.

#TipTuesday: Writer’s Block

Hilary Mantel once said, “If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.” (The Guardian, 25 February 2010)

No offense to Hilary, but I have never worked through my writer’s block by walking away from it. I do think that if you get frustrated, taking a break to destress can be a good tool since anger can cloud your thoughts. However, in the end, you have to go back to your work. As H. Jackson Brown Jr.  once said, “Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin, and inspiration will find you.”

As such, here are some tips on how to work through writer’s block.

  • Ask questions. If you’re having trouble with figuring out where to go next ask yourself questions about the problem. What is the villian’s goal? What does the hero know? What does the audience know? What does the audience need to see at this point? What is the backstory of the cyborg trying to kill the main character, other than just a bad guy thrown at the main character? Do we really want to kill him now that he has a backstory? Just keep asking, and eventually, you’ll ask the right one.
  • Close your eyes, and see through your character’s eyes. Don’t just think of the character as a piece of the story, but as a real person. What decision would they make at this point? Or take a step back even further and think “what would logically happen at this point between all characters?” Use your characters as fuel to drive your story.
  • Play with side ideas. Don’t just focus on what is happening at this point of the story. Think of everything else going on and how you can work that into the part you’re having trouble with. Looking at the story from a different angle can help open up new avenues.
  • Talk to someone. A nice trick in computer science when working on a problem is to explain it to someone else without showing any code. This is for two reasons. (1) For the obvious reason, advice, but also (2) because in the act of telling someone what the problem is, you will often see some detail that can help work through it before you can even finish explaining what you needed help with.

And the most important trick to conquering writer’s block is to never give up. Walk away for a short while if you need to, but always come back.

#PhotoPromptFriday: Henry Thomson


Paintings have been made of famous scenes from famous stories for ages, from the “Birth of Venus” to “David and Goliath”, but on #PhotoPromptFriday we turn that around and write stories inspired by great works of art.

This is a work by Henry Thomson whose title tells the story of the painting, so I’ll save the title of the piece until I post the best story from #PhotoPromptFriday so that you can all have a chance to come up with your own stories for the painting.

To participate in #PhotoPromptFriday, go to the page on my blog #PhotoPromptFriday and submit a story inspired by the art piece. The person who writes the best story will be featured on my blog as a post with a link to their blog, and will be post on the#PhotoPromptFriday page until a new winner is decided.

Have fun and good luck!