Writing Exercise: Every Ten Pages

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Faith Hunter, the writer of the amazing Jane Yellowrock series, talks about how her normal rule-of-thumb is being impacted by her long-running series (then at a measly eight books) in a Magical Words post from January 28, 2014.

“Something has to happen every ten pages.” is her go-to rule-of-thumb.

Only then is the reader pushed through the story with the “I can’t put this book down” feeling.

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She say for a mystery, that is how often the clues need to hit, for a romance, that is how often the romance needs to move forward.

Unlike most writers who dream of writing novels and moan about cutting down to short story length for special projects, I’m the opposite. My natural writing form is poetry. And not just any poetry: Tanka – five lines. I’ve managed to up it to flashes, and last year I had a break through in writing series of flashes. Now I’m aiming for short stories … or, bless my heart, novellas, which are actual sellable products.

The “every ten pages” is beginning to become a reality. Interesting enough, most chapters in genre fiction published works are around 10 pages – coincidence? 

WRITING EXERCISE: Look at your present WIP (work-in-progress) and see how often the major plot has a jump forward. Does it match the rule-of-thumb? Is there a slow part of the book? How many pages between plot-moving action is that?

READING EXERCISE: Find an author, one whose books you can’t put down. Not necessarily a favorite because deconstructing someone’s writing lets you see their formulas and that makes the reading less fun. Anyway, for this book, write the beats down – does something happen every ten pages?


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