Pick up the Pace for a Real Page-Turner



Readers of fiction often complain that a book didn’t keep their interest, that the characters, story and/or writing just didn’t grab them. Today’s readers have shorter attention spans and so many more books to choose from. Most of them/us don’t have the time or patience for the lengthy descriptive passages, long, convoluted “literary” sentences, detailed technical explanations, author asides, soap-boxing, or the leisurely pacing of fiction of 100 years ago.

Besides, with TV, movies, and the internet, we don’t need most of the detailed descriptions of locations anymore, unlike early readers who’d perhaps never left their town, and had very few visual images of other locales to draw on. Ditto with detailed technical explanations – if readers want to know more, they can just Google the topic.

While you don’t want your story barreling along at a break-neck speed all the way through – that would be exhausting for the reader – you do want the pace to be generally brisk enough to keep the readers’ interest. As Elmore Leonard said, “I try to leave out the parts that people skip.”

Here are some concrete techniques for accelerating your narrative style at strategic spots to create those tense, fast-paced scenes.

Continue reading on Jodie Renner‘s site:



Small goals—underchallenge yourself

Neil Armstrong Moon

Under exaggerate.

Sometimes I feel like I cannot be a real author since real authors have huge goals like 1,000 words every day. I’ve done this before, even developing the habit at times.
I feel envious when I hear of some writers, who top this lofty goal by writing several thousand words in a single day. I did that. Once.
But what about when life steps in?
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You’re on Fire—Three Keys to Writing Success


Fire needs three things—fuel, heat, and oxygen. Without any of these, there is no fire.


Success is similar. It needs these three—time, motivation, and a plan.



Did you know that you could save over $8,000 for your child’s college by saving $1 each day starting at birth? Wow! Or if you invest $5,000/year for 10 years beginning at age 25, you could have over $600,000 by age 65. (Compare this to the $400,000 earned by investing $5,000 from age 35 to 60.)

Bill Gates said, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.

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Top seven questions to ask your readers


Wouldn’t you love to know what your readers are thinking as they read your book? You could know when they’re excited or bored, interested or confused.

My wife is my first reader, and I always laugh at her written comments—“hmmm,” “ho hum,” or “oooooh!” These show me what to change in a way I could never do alone.

Unfortunately, most readers are not so dedicated. Instead, if you want many readers to give you advice, try sticking to these seven open-ended questions that readers can fill out after they read.

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3 things I wish I knew before becoming an author

Photo: My brother, the published author! (love how face is turned in such a way that it looks like a chunk of his beard is gone haha)

What do most people think about writers? Aside from seeing them as quirky or possibly snobbish, most non-writers think of writers as having the dream job of working for themselves at home in their pajamas, only donning normal clothes for book signings and author talks (in which hundreds of people line up to visit these celebrities).

The reality is slightly different. I learned this the hard way, and I wish I knew these three truths.
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Making mistakes on purpose


Here is an original page from “Alaric, Child of the Goths.” Looks messy, doesn’t it?

Don’t worry—none of this mess is still in the book!

The typed section doesn’t look too bad—a few asterisks, an all cap question, and an underlined number.

But look at the rest. It looks like I failed the assignment because of all the mistakes.


Or did I?

Is your assignment to write a perfect rough draft?

1. If you are taking a placement exam, yes.

2. If you are writing a novel, journal, or anything for fun, no.


Are all those comments actually mistakes?

Let’s change the perspective. When you receive the page filled with marks—made either by you or by your editor—avoid thinking about them as mistakes. Instead, think of what you did as practice. Few people if any are able to write a rough draft worthy of a final. And generally these people are poor writers whose problem is the inability to do more than the rough draft.

Without writing the “flawed” rough draft, the final would not happen. As I look through this page, I do not see mistakes so much (this page had mostly the right words and grammar in my opinion) as unfinished ideas. I filled most of the available page with what I thought needed to be added, either to clarify an unclear sentence or to give a character the right name. (The character Athwaulf used to be named Paulus.)


If we take this analogy to the marks an editor or teacher gives, think of them as advice to help your practice. Unless you were lazy and did not correct basic mistakes like spelling and verb form, an editor’s marks are ideas for you to consider and implement, not criticisms of your mistakes.


I hope you find this change in perspective freeing. Now, go make mistakes… with the goal of improving what you do.

3 reasons to read what you written :)


I teach English as a second language to students from many countries. We recently began a new program in which students cannot pass their writing exam if they have a certain number of basic errors, like missing periods, or basic spelling and verb mistakes.

Needless to say, most students do not like this. But it forces them to read what they have written before submitting it. I believe this skill is necessary for everyone.

3 reasons to read what you written :)

1. Everyone make mistakes.

Some mistakes are simple. Their/there/they’re—I make this mistake a lot when I write fast, but I easily catch it when I check. Other mistakes like “There will be less people” are harder to catch because it sounds right. (see bonus below to find out how to fix this)

2. You never now who will read what you right.

What if a prospective employer finds out that you cannot use capital letters, or if you apply for college and don’t put in enough time on the essay to prove that you are ready to study there?

Also, be careful with names. In college I had a teacher named Dr. Mohrmann, whose name was regularly misspelled as Dr. Mormon—ironic at a Christian University, isn’t it?

3. It makes you to be a more disciplined person.

Part of living well involves trying hard and improving yourself. There is no need to act like a nerd, but why settle for being mediocre? Read again and try to fix it. If your bad at it, get someone else to check it.

Thanks in advance to my wife Amanda who will read this and find all the accident mistakes that I did not catch the first time.


1. Everyone make–>Everyone makes

Bonus–There will be less people–> There will be fewer people.

2. You never now who will read what you right.–> know, write

3. It makes you to be–> be

Bonus—If your bad–>you’re

Bonus—I hope you caught the mistake in the title: written–> wrote / have written