I'd planned on doing a twelve-tips-before-Christmas-count-down sort of thing, but then my dog got sick and I've been running back and forth to the vet's, turning into a crazed puppy mom--Googling any and all symptoms in total panic mode. Then we found out it was Cushing's disease, which required more Googling and more panic. Do you know how many Web sites there are on that? And how many different opinions? Seriously, if my head wasn't already spinning that would've done it. The good news is that said puppy will soon be on a treatment plan. Right now she's enjoying a nice Valium buzz on the couch while I consider joining her.
Okay, so as much as I'd love writing an entire post on my dog drama, and Lord knows I could, I'm pretty sure others might not find it so riveting. So, here's a tip about pacing.
I've heard a few times that you should read your manuscript out loud to yourself, but that never really appealed to me. I'll read the dialogue out, and sometimes various sentences, just to get the rhythm right, but reading the story out loud didn't help. Until I was reading a chapter to someone else. That's when I realized I was speed reading a few parts because I worried the listener was going to be bored. At some point a light bulb went off-- I like to think that was sooner than later, but I'm not sure exactly when the magic "Hey, wait a minute!" moment happened. Anyway, I kind of clued in that if I'm worried about losing my listener's attention in those areas, I better be worried about losing the readers. So ever after that, if I'm not sure about a spot, I'll read it out loud, and if I rush it, or find myself skimming through it, it gets cut way down, or out altogether.
Just recently, I was at a friend's poetry reading and she asked me about a certain section, which she realized she'd read really fast. We discussed my theory about rushing past areas we're subconsciously worried about, and that's when she had her light bulb moment. She said that when she was reading, she thought, "This part's going on way too long, I'm going to lose my audience." Then she started talking faster.
So, there you go. If you're speeding through it, you better weed through it!