High Gears in Writing


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High Gears in Writing can be Grueling


Traci Kenworth




Sometimes high gears in writing can be great. You’re flying past the curves, staying on the road, headed in the right direction but things can quickly get out of control. There are times when slow processes are needed. Such as when you’re trying to transition a scene. You don’t want to drive all-out, you could go off the pavement. Instead, take your time, savor the scene, get the details just right. Give your reader a breather, so to speak. After all, you don’t want one race track from start to finish.


Everything has to be done in a step-by-step action. Introduce us to your characters. Bring on the inciting incident but don’t go speeding through it all. Readers like to linger by the roadside, enjoy the scenery, digest things. If you just rush through things, we’ll never get a chance to get to know the characters, understand why their goal is so important to them, cringe at the risks of tackling the obstacle.


But you say readers want the big bang up-front. Actually, they like to take their time and get to know you’re people, their hopes, theh dreams. I’m not saying to go on forever with these details. There has to be just enough. How do you know when you’ve reached that? By paying attention during your revisions. Do you yawn in some places? That’s where you need to step in and speed things up. Do you struggle to figure out what’s going on among the latest action dispersed on the pages? Slow it down and add breathers.


An obstacle course isn’t something most readers enjoy. If you want to get Sally and Joe across the raging river, show the fear, the struggles, the disappointment, but also include the moments when they break their progress to interact, to hug, to encourage each other. Danger keeps things hopping, sure. Give your reader too much of it though from page one to finish and you may send them dodging for the comforts of reality. So, yeah, use different gears when you write. Save the high gear for the climax and spurts threaded throughout your story. As you gain experience, you’ll know when to use each.


14 thoughts on “High Gears in Writing

  1. I’m definitely guilty of rushing through moments in my writing that should be slowed down so readers can savor them. Setting, inner battles, decisions…I have to make a conscious effort at not whizzing unceremoniously through or past those things.


    1. I think you sort of “develop” a habit of realizing which scenes work and which don’t and how to work the pace of a story as you keep growing in your writing. And grappling with our stories encourages that right mix as we go along.


  2. You’re so right! Writing can definitely be a balancing act between rushing so fast you ignore the scenery or going so slow that all you see is the scenery while the action all happens behind you! On the fulcrum of that teeter-totter is where there is a perfect mix of action and pause. Getting there might need a friend or two (critique partner or beta reader) to counterbalance the board and help you find your equilibrium. 🙂


  3. It really is tough, and subjective. One person might think your pacing is good. Someone else thinks it’s too fast. And someone else thinks it’s too slow. It’s enough to cause your head to spin. 😛


  4. So true. Tension is actually born in the quieter moments in a story. Because that’s when your reader learns to care. Can’t have tension when the reader doesn’t care if things go wrong for the reader. 🙂


  5. Good post. It’s a balance between action and showing the character in their ‘normal’ world before a change happens. I know some people are told ‘start with action’ and so they start right in the middle of some big event and the reader has to catch up on what the heck is going on. Really what is meant is to start on the cusp of action, so we can see who the character is by what they do as a situation is introduced.


  6. Great advice, Angela!! We have to be brought up to speed on who a character is and what they want out of life and what’s going to happen to interfere with that before we get tackled by the storyline.


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