Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pacing . . . the Tortoise Way

One aspect I struggle with in my novel writing is pacing - this scene goes on too long, that scene is too short. It's something I'm working on.

But I'm not the only one in my house who struggles with pacing...of a different sort.

The tortoises are usually pretty quiet creatures but once in awhile, Larry decides to be rambunctious. I'll be in my office, writing (or trying to) and I'll hear a thunk from downstairs. A minute goes by and then another thunk. The pattern repeats itself over...and over...and over. This is the sound of Larry pacing back and forth in the tank. He walks to one end, scrabbles in the corner a bit, then turns around, banging his shell up against the glass or the hide or the rocks or Mrs. Larry before walking to the other end and doing it all over again.  

I've explained to Larry how I'm trying to work and need quiet and how he's not being the hard-shelled muse I need him to be. He just looks at me like this...

...and continues pacing. Hmm, maybe he's trying to tell me something - keep at it, don't give up, go until I no longer can then rest before I start again, the other side of the tank offers a different perspective that just might help me see things differently. Or maybe he's telling me to go put on those noise canceling headphones so we can both get back to our respective pacing issues. 

Do you struggle with pacing like Larry and me? Or is it plotting or showing characters' emotions or something else? Or maybe it's all good and you're mellow like Mrs. Larry, who spends her days dozing with her head on a rock, basking in the heat and light of the lamp?  


  1. Since I'm a bare bones writer, I sometimes make the pace too fast.
    Larry just wants to come out and play.

  2. Alex - there are time when Larry will go outside and walk around for hours then still come in and pace. Then there are times when he's all mellow and sleepy on a rock. He's an enigma. :)

  3. do you ever let larry roam in the house? like with a baby gate?

    and my pace is usually a steady too fast, in writing & life. i need an adjustment =)

  4. Tara - the tortoises usually roam outside but the weather has been kind of cool for them - even here in FL that happens occasionally. :)

  5. I have my struggles as well, mostly with not explaining my characters emotions too much. Larry is adorable. I'd take his advice. :)

  6. Emily - yes, Larry is pretty cute. The Mrs. thinks so, too, at least some of the time. :)

  7. It's a constant struggle for me, even with the noise-cancelling headphones. And I don't even have a cute turtle to distract me! I tell myself to slow down, and then I slow down w-a-y too much; but when I speed up again, everything's rushed. Guess that's what revisions are for...

  8. Milo - I struggle with finding the zone where you want the scene to be fast-paced but not rushed, where you want detail but not so much detail that it slows the scene down. Tricky stuff but it's what we writers do, isn't it? :)