I learned a lot at the LDStorymakers Writer's Conference that I am anxious to share. Have you ever read a book that was just so intense at parts that when you turned the page for the next chapter, you found yourself breathless, exhausted, and heart pounding a mile a minute? I thought I was crazy, and scolded myself for reading so gosh darn fast. Well, as it turns out, I was NOT crazy after all. There is actually a trick to writing that literally speeds up your story. The shorter your paragraphs, the shorter your sentences, and the more bang each word can dramatically increase the intensity of your story!
In moments of intensity, nobody cares what the character's eye color is. This is the time where all the action happens, and the reader needs to be as concerned about the problem as the character is. Can you imagine checking out that hottie's smile over there across the street as a murderer is chasing you down with a large, bloody butcher knife? Yeah, I didn't think so, either. The moment needs to be completely focused and quick-paced if you want your reader to keep interest. Word of warning: if you go too fast, you're going to lose your reader. I've read some books where I've been so breathless and anxious to reach the conclusion of the chapter that I've had to actually go back and re-read a paragraph or two because I didn't know everything that had just happened.
On the other hand, slowing down your story so your readers can catch their breath and process what they've just read is just as necessary. Internal thoughts, descriptions, and mellow words can slow it down. Long, compound sentences also do the trick.
When reaching the climax of your story, don't rush it. What's taken maybe hundreds of pages to reach should not be finished in a paragraph or two. It needs to be long enough to deliver the emotional impact a reader is looking for.
The best piece of advice that was given during the conference was to become a critical reader. Recognize the pace that is written, and see what works and what doesn't. By becoming familiar with and critical of the pace of other authors, it will soon be demonstrated in your own writing.