Gone are the days when I wrote by the seat of my pants. I miss the rush, the thrill of discovering my characters as words appear on the page. What I don't miss is having to trunk manuscripts half-way through, or backtrack and painstakingly rewrite large chunks of the story because of a decision I later made.
I consider myself a recovering pantser. I try my best to map out tales, and I use Scrivener somewhat religiously. However, more often than not, I tend to veer from plans already made. Luckily, since I write pretty short, I can get away with it.
T.D. Hassett does not have that luxury. Since writing in the 60-90,000 range is one of my goals, I've invited her over to give me pointers on pacing. Afterwards, we take a closer look at her rockstar romance, Isabel's Awakening.
Got Pacing? Four things I needed to know but didn't.
by T.D. Hassett
My very first book was written literally by the seat of my pants. As in I sat on the back deck drinking after work cocktails and typing away. I didn't know anything about formats, point of view or pacing. It was total luck that a couple of publishers offered contract on that bookand even luckier for me that one of those publishers had a special class for writers who needed fine tuning. I've now written five books and each one became easier to put together. So what were my big take a ways?
If you have too many points of view your story will be confusing! It seems that number is based on a book's length. A book in the 60-90,000 word zone should have three points of view; the hero, the heroine and possibly the villain to add a darkness to the telling.
Panstering versus plotting? I am becoming more of a plotter with a panster attitude. Not outlining or using a pacing guide can mean you have unfinished stories. Good stories that wind up stuck in a quagmire because you can’t bring them to conclusion without re-organizing what’s been written. I sincerely believe that my current work in progress would be abandoned by now if I hadn’t spent time using the plotting paradigms to get my ideas organized. Know how it will all come together before you get too far.
Make sure you are dividing up your story into stages to keep that pacing under control. Introduce your H/H by the first third of the story otherwise your reader may lose interest. The next stage should contain the key conflict: What makes this potential happily ever after seem to be doomed? The final section has to tie up all the loose ends. Leaving a few strands hanging is frustrating to the reader. Okay this last part is a personal pet peeve, as I really don't like cliffhanger books.
Finally, the epilogue should be detailed enough to satisfy your reader. My original ending to Isabel's Awakening had a big kiss at the end and that was it. Fortunately I was given some good advice and created an epilogue to show the readers that the happy couple was thriving and truly settled.
I hope these basic tips help in your writing.
by T.D. Hassett
Who didn’t know the biggest rock band in the world?
Singer and front man Thomas Morgan was destroyed by the loss of his brother and total destruction of his marriage. To avoid entanglements with others, even his young son, Thomas focused on promoting his music and newly formed record label. He thought he had everything at a safe distance, at least until Isabel literally slammed into his life.
High school teacher Isabel Warren finds herself falling head over heels in love with the sexy-as-sin singer for the rock band Becket. Soon Isabel’s orderly world of lesson plans, thesis writing, and student loan debt is competing against desire, passion, and her vulnerable heart.
As the sex sizzles, the two lovers will have to decide which parts of their dreams they will sacrifice for their fledgling relationship.
Thomas Becket Morgan was cranky and bored with this place already. His band was playing two shows in this tiny state over the coming weekend, and the small city lacked decent lodgings for the first night’s engagement, so the tour manager had set them up in this suburban hotel from hell.
The town appeared to be a bedroom community, ritzy houses set in quiet neighborhoods and one main road crowded with shopping malls, gas stations, high-end eateries, and designer outlet stores. Drive six miles down the road, and the view became tenement houses just like those in the depression-era book a photographer he admired named Riis had put out. This place was reasonably close to New York City—its one redeeming value—and had he known how close it was in advance, he would have commuted here for the show from his flat in the city.
Gordon, or Gordy as Thomas preferred to call him, acted as both babysitter and tour assistant. He stood in a ridiculously long line at the Five Guys burger place while Thomas looked for something to read. He was sick of hotel food and just wanted bangers and mash but would settle for a decent burger and fries. It had been dreary and raining all day, and they couldn’t even set up and do sound checks at the stadium until Friday morning. Today had been a wasted day.
He envied Rick, the bassist. Fucker. He was staying in his own home with his wife and children and just showing up to do the area shows. That bloke had brains and talent.
Thomas’ most prized possession, a 1963 Fender Telecaster custom guitar, had traveled with him to thirty-two states and twelve countries over the last twenty-four months, and he was sick of it all. He missed his boy and his house, which was now owned by his ex-wife, Sasha, the cheating coke-whore bitch. Thinking about Sasha left a bad taste in his mouth. At this point he even wondered if crazy should be added to the litany of insults against her. He had been receiving odd postcards mentioning his personal skeletons and offering to keep quiet in exchange for joining the sender in “making a real family.” She’d been just unhinged enough since the divorce to try mess with his head and send him that kind of shit.
He’d slept on the plane from Toronto today for too long and woken up with a kink in his neck and an urge to read the next book in a series he’d started reading some years back. Thomas didn’t know why he loved Herbert’s Dune series. Maybe it was the made-for-television movies they’d done on two of the books but whatever. All the desert scenes made him want to visit the Sahara or some big sandy place and ride a camel or some such foolery. Besides, for the rest of the East Coast portion of Becket’s tour, he would be stuck on buses with hours of boring highway scenery with few days off in between shows.
He grabbed a couple of books off the shelf and read the backs to kill time; he was already holding what he’d planned to buy.
The place was quiet; some soft pop canned music played over the store speakers. Sounded like a fucking Justin Bieber song. The walls were the standard beige with framed prints of famous books and movies scattered about. The DVD section had the largest number of shoppers, so the section with the science fiction novels was all his, although he thought he should buy some movies since hotel selections could be trying. He wouldn’t mind picking up the director’s cut of THX.
Just as he switched books, he saw a young woman walking toward his area. She was tall, early twenties or maybe late teens trying to look older, with wet hair hanging out of what he thought must have been a bun-sort of updo, that or one of those new styles. She looked so distracted in her wet blouse and severe long brown skirt. He idly wondered if she would bug him for an autograph and gush like so many of the others her age did. For the first time in forever, he actually hoped she would. It was not something he usually liked; he detested fan meet and greets. But this girl… She just looked yummy.
Her breasts were full. They were practically falling out of her bra through the thin, wet shirt, and her hips were what his granddad would have called “good breeding hips” in his day. She wasn’t all stick shaped and harsh angles like his ex; this girl was curvy and feminine. Her mouth was overfull, with lips that most women would have had to pay a surgeon to pump full of silicone, but somehow, he just knew they were natural. He didn’t think she was wearing makeup, and her skin looked so milk-pale and flawless. Absently, he wondered if she realized that the long, tight skirt down to her ankles made men think more about what was underneath than if she had been wearing a tight mini with fishnet stockings. He watched her like some sort of stalker while pretending to decide between two books.
She walked down the aisle, coming closer to him, and the whole thing was like an auto accident in slow motion. He knew she was going to fall but couldn’t believe she didn’t see the librarians’ step stool in front of her. One, two, three, and down she went, barreling into his chest as he reached forward to try to stop her headfirst descent. She landed in a partial kneel, breasts—oh those breasts—plastered right onto his stomach. He grasped her upper arm and elbow and tried to bring her back level. He slid her body up his shirt and felt hard nipples through the fabric of their clothes. As she stepped back and righted herself, he could see why. Her soaked shirt clearly showed her tits as if the shirt wasn’t even there. Her bra must have been ripped because her nipples were swollen and visible in all their pink glory. Oh, how he loved the pale girls. Such lovely contrasts they had.
She spoke, fast and nervous, but with a young voice. He couldn’t help but feel bad for her; he could tell she was mortified. Thomas pushed her back to her feet gently. He really would have preferred to keep those tits pressed to his chest a bit longer, but instead, he gave her the polite response his mum would expect. Twelve years of all this rock-and-roll shit and a whore-bag of an ex hadn’t left him totally jaded, just mostly.
She spoke, but it took his head a minute to let the words sink in. He couldn’t take his eyes off her face. This girl didn’t need cosmetics. Adding anything more to such kissable lips would be fatal to mankind. They shared a couple more inane comments and…
Oh fuck, she’s going.
He didn’t want her to go. Why had she come down this aisle anyway? Books, yes, books. Ask her about the books, his distracted brain hinted.
Well, fuck me, he muttered silently. She reads Herbert.
About T.D. Hassett
T.D. Hassett grew up reading the romance greats, Jackie Collins, Julie Garwood and Judith McNaught. She was certain that life should be like a romance novel, lots of passion, some incredible adventures and a guaranteed happily ever after. She attended college in New England earning a B.A. in history and a M.S. degree in clinical psychology before changing her mind again and studying education. Currently Ms. Hassett lives in Connecticut with her very patient husband and two young children. Her rambunctious family shares their home with 3 crazy cats and a darling Beta fish named Dorothy. Her eccentric relatives and their quest to make her feel like the only normal nut in the family tree inspire her writing. She also writes under the pen name of Tiffany Dawn. Visit her at www.naughtyandniceofromance.com or facebook/tdhassett/author