Friday, July 8, 2022

Expansion/Contraction--Test the Pacing Strength of Your Writing

Pacing—a delicate affair in writing a book—depends on a balance of expanded and contracted moments. I think of it like breathing. Good pacing creates a rhythm between inhale and exhale, between how much we take in and how it is absorbed.

It's hard to learn. The fastest, most effective way is by reading good writing, of course. When I read a well-paced memoir or novel, I feel the author has kept my interest and delivered just the right amount of material in each chapter. There isn't any rush, but there's no lagging either.

I recently read The Farm by Joanne Ramos, published in 2019. About a community in rural New York where surrogates are paid to bear the children of the uber-wealthy, this is not an easy read. But the pacing was masterful. I read it in two days; I couldn't put it down. Similarly, I just finished The Guide, a new thriller by Peter Heller. Another challenging subject, but wonderfully written and paced. When I finished, I actually started reading it a second time, just to catch what I might have missed. A third, equally provocative book I enjoyed this month, this one a memoir, was Heating and Cooling, a series of 52 micro-stories by Beth Ann Fennelly. Two days for that one, as well.