Thought for the day: A yawn is an honest opinion openly expressed.
Ever hear of a gearhead? That's what my husband is. Simply put, that means he has a passion (and talent) for building cars. At one of the car meets we attended last year , he pointed at one of the cars and said, "All go and no whoa." (He has a way with words.) Anyway, a couple weeks later, I found out he wasn't just being funny.
Stan, one of our amateur radio buddies, has a '56 Chevy. She's a beauty, and has been lovingly and meticulously restored, inside and out. One weekend, when we were attending a hamfest in his part of the state, he offered to take us for a spin in his baby. Oh yeah!
So, he got behind the wheel, we climbed in, and off we went. It was glorious!
Until it wasn't.
We were barreling down a hill at a pretty hefty pace, and rapidly approaching the bottom, where the road abruptly ended in a T, and a stop sign. Stan pressed his foot on the brake, but that old Chevy barely even slowed down. We kept on a-rolling, right through the stop sign and around the corner. All go, no whoa.
Maybe we should be more aware of the potential all go and no whoa pitfalls in our writing, too.
I'm not suggesting the action in our books should move at a snail's pace. That may be "safe", but it's boring. If we were only creeping along at 5 MPH, the ride in that Chevy would've been much safer, but it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun. Who wants to creep down the road, or watch grass grow, or read a book where nothing ever happens? And if you're barely moving, who notices or worries about a stop?
On the other hand, we can't be flying at 100 MPH all the time, either.
Adrenaline-pumping, high speed action is thrilling, but it can also be exhausting for a reader, and the longer it goes on, the less effective it becomes. If you give your readers nothing but superlatives, they quickly lose their meaning and punch.
Like so many other things in life, what we need in our writing is balance. Lull the reader with the slow parts, and then smack the crap out of him with a surprising burst of speed.
Oh, yeah. Like a roller coaster ride.
As an ideal, I think a book should vary its pace, and carry its readers through a lot of ups, downs, and surprising turns. I'm not a huge fan of roller coasters, but I do love to be surprised when I'm reading, don't you?.
That's the ideal. Does my book measure up to that? Honestly, no. Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade is more like a pleasant Sunday drive, with a few hairpin turns and dips in the road. (But my brakes eventually work!)
How about you? How would you describe the pace in the books you most enjoy? How about in the books you write? Is it the same, or different?
Oh, and by the way, if you're restoring an old car, please update the brakes. Safety trumps authenticity when you're barreling down the street.
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.
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