I’ve been writing reviews for Tangent Online for more than three years now, and in that time I’ve chosen quite a few short stories as my personal favorites that have gone on to win some big awards. Each time it’s been due to a gut feeling, rather than some academic and laborious analysis of the writing. When a story is right, it’s just… right. I can see it without understanding the underlying technique. I can feel the rightness of it without knowing how the hell the author did it.
And that’s because I have no real training as a writer. Beyond my college English classes, and my work on a doctoral dissertation in music, I have had no formal training. That’s true of most writers, I guess, but as an academic it galls me that I don’t know some very basic techniques.
Take pacing for instance. An editor who has been very kind with his rejections, mentioned on at least two of my submissions that I have problems with pacing. What the hell is that? Sure, I understand the basic concept, but how does it apply in these instances? I sit down to edit the stories in question, and I simply can’t see it. Keep in mind that I have beta readers who love what I write, so they are not seeing it either.
A Bing search (don’t judge me, I don’t do Google of any stripe) reveals lots of articles on pacing, but none of them agree on a definition, much less how to fix it. As a mostly self-taught writer, I depend on the internet to help me grow my craft. In very few cases has it let me down.
If anyone has a suggestion, I am open to all comers. Leave a comment. Message me with an email, and I’ll send a few of my stories for you to look over.