Keeping it Moving - Maintaining Plot

Plot and pacing are key to successful writing. Too much or too little can cause issues. I attended a fun panel on plotting recently. The authors, Meg Gardner, Glen Erik Hamilton, Alexandra Sokoloff, Terrence McCauley, and S.J. Rozan offered tips for keeping your story moving. Here are twelve ideas to help tighten up your writing.

1. Make sure your characters get in trouble in the novel. Conflict always leads to action.

2. Shorter chapters help move the story along.

3. Dialogue is faster to read than dense narrative. Be strategic about where you put your narrative.

4. Sprinkle in the back story. Avoid data dumps of information about your character's history.

5. Build tension in your story and then release it, but don't release it too soon.

6. Avoid ending your chapters with the character going to bed or thinking. If you do, make sure that something interesting happens along with it. You don't want to give readers the idea that your chapter end is a good stopping point. You want your reader to keep reading.

7. Don't let your characters get bored.

8. Read over your work. If you're bored, your readers will be too.

9. Look at how many times your characters eat. Think of something else for them to do.

10. Use jump cuts (moving the story to the next scene) to keep the action in motion. You don't have to tell your readers every detail of each activity. If the character is in New York and goes to Egypt, you don't have to write about every detail of getting on the plane and flying unless it is key to the story.

11. Cut out any unnecessary words. Don't write a paragraph when a sentence will do.

12. Keep your reader engaged.

These are good reminders to make your writing strong and to keep the story flowing. What else would you add to the list?