NaNoWriMo Giveaway: How to Pace Your Novel

It is Day 12 of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month.

How is your novel coming? They say that Week 2 of NaNoWriMo is the toughest, because writers have gotten over the initial excitement of writing a book and have come up against a brick wall. You doubt yourself, second-guess yourself, and begin listening to that inner-critic that drives you crazy. Don’t give up!

Each weekday during November, the Writer’s Digest website will be offering free tips for NaNoWriMo participants, called “giveaways.” If you click “read more,” you are required to submit an email address before you are allowed to download the “giveaway.”

This week’s giveaway is about pacing your novel, taken from Nancy Kress’ Elements of Fiction Writing: Beginnings, Middles & Ends. 

A fast-paced novel increases tension, which intrigues readers and causes them to keep reading. Sometimes it can be difficult to keep the action escalating, but it is essential to plot. Without action, there is no conflict. And without conflict, there would be no story.

The following are tips to “quicken the pace of your story” from the giveaway piece written by Nancy Kress:

  • Start your story in the middle of a dramatic sequence, not before the drama commences.
This is a tough one for me. I don’t know about you, but I tend to “set the scene” before I make it to the action. However, I realize that when I read back over my work, I bore myself to tears. Maybe “setting the scene” is something I need to do in order to get started, but something I delete later.
  • Rely on dialogue. A lot of story can be carried by spoken conversation.
I believe that this is something I do well. For the longest time, I have worried that I put too much dialogue in my writing and that I need more description. It’s nice to know that I might be doing something right.
  • Keep backstory to a minimum. The more we learn about your characters through what they do now, in story time, the less you’ll need flashbacks, memories and exposition about their histories.
Whoops. I give my characters so much backstory it is probably impossible for the reader to form their own conclusions. I think backstory is necessary for the author, not so much for the reader.
  • Keep chapters short.

For some odd reason, I have always believed longer chapters meant I was writing “a real novel.” But I have noticed that books with shorter chapters are the books I finish more quickly.


Have these tips helped? What do you believe you can improve upon? What do you believe you’re doing well?

NaNoWriMo Giveaway (Day 12): How to Pace Your Novel


~ Brooke 🙂

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