Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Words of wisdom from Daisy Banks

My guest today is Daisy Banks, who is sharing with us her hard-earned insights on pacing a story effectively:

Timing it right.

One of the things I have always struggled hard with in my writing is getting the pace and timing right. When I first started writing, I would spend an age during the first chapter lovingly setting the scene. Yes, I know you are smiling at that point. I’d linger over the most inconsequential things; being English, I could devote several paragraphs to the weather alone.

Thankfully, I found some wonderful critique partners, who, once they’d squashed the giggles my efforts induced, pointed out something very important to me. If I lingered over; the leaden skies and torrents of rain falling like silvery skeins--yes, I once truly wrote that line--my readers would throw the book up the wall and read no more.

“Honest?” I asked, full of hope my critique pals would say they were teasing.

“HONEST!” Came the reply. “Cut it.”

So, though it hurt, because I wanted to paint beautiful word pictures, I cut it. I didn’t just snip; I forced myself to be brutal and I savaged. I ripped out whole chapters. I discovered with my early efforts I could usually take out the first two chapters and no one would even notice because the action often didn’t start until chapter three.

The key word there is action. Experienced authors know readers want action or a situation to lure them into the story, not a lot of back story before the action begins.

Timing or pace in a story is the key to holding the reader’s interest, and despite my love of the season in which the story was set, or my wish to offer details about the character's environment and traumatic past, these things must wait.

I’d like to say the more I write the more I improve in some aspects of writing. The only people who can tell me that for sure are readers and I’m grateful when they do.

I have three new stories coming out in the next nine months or so and I hope people will find their beginnings compelling enough to want to read on.

In the meantime, while I’m waiting for those things to be ready to share with you, I thought I might offer the beginning of Your Heart My Soul, published by Liquid Silver Books.

Moonlight shimmered. The sliver of pale shadows on the grubby floorboards he crossed wavered like ripples in the shallows. William “Reliance” Smith sat and tipped his sailor’s cap over his brow. With no one about to cry shame, he lounged back, putting his feet up on the comfortable, red leather chaise. A dim pattern of blue light from across the street sparkled and played on the opposite wall, where yellowed paint flaked and peeled.
The windowpanes rattled in their leaded squares, buffeted by the wind outside. Or, on the other hand, perhaps their agitation had another cause. A small bloom of anticipation swelled in his chest and the fine hairs on the back of his neck rose. Might this be the night his dreams came true? He sighed and battled to hold down the ache inside.
How many times had he hoped before? All for naught.
Not a Jack lived in the wide world that’d make him tell of it, but he feared the flavor of the bitter cup of loss, had tasted it too long and too often. He shook the thoughts away. No matter what, he’d linger, as he’d promised his darlin’ for as long as need be. Unsettled as he was this night, he sought a fresh distraction to help him through the waiting and glanced around the shop.
Before God, he couldn’t deny it. Tonight, change hung heavy in the air, but not in the way he longed for. No sign of his sweet Sally to cheer him; not a breath of her fragrance in the stillness; no clatter of her red-striped heels over the flagstones outside announced her arrival.
A part of him long ago warned this vigil, it were a waste, and he’d never hear those precious sounds again. That time had gone … he’d only to glance at the star patterns in the winter sky to know it … but … what if he were wrong? Mayhap all these doubts, this waiting, it might be a test of his love. Perhaps the day would dawn when his Sal would come to him. One precious evening he’d find her here, and they’d be happy again as they’d sworn.
Faith must be the key. He’d a head start on others in that quarter, for his very name gave his offer of assurance to his family, to his master, and to his shipmates. They’d never yet found him wanting and nor would his darlin’ wench.
Yet this night his senses jangled, out of kilter. The room didn’t set right with him at all. If anyone asked, he’d have been hard put to say what had changed, but his gut told him for sure something had occurred.
A prickle rose on the back of his neck; the fine hairs stood like a hound’s ruff to warn of storms to come and his certainty grew. T’was said only those who’d made it ’round the Horn got the sense of predicting stormy winds. Well, he’d made it ’round the Horn and home twice—and tonight, in the twilight shadows, proof of it raced icy down his back.
You can find the rest of this intriguing story here. And new, coming this summer, you'll find:

A Perfect Match from Taliesin Publishing

Coming later in the year:

To Eternity, sequel to Timeless from Lyrical Press
Marked for Magic from Lyrical Press

She is also the author of:

From Lyrical Press, a Kensington imprint:
A Matter of Some Scandal
Fiona’s Wish

From Liquid Silver Books:
Your Heart My Soul
A Gentleman’s Folly
Valentine Wishes

All are available on Amazon:

Find Daisy Banks here:

Twitter @DaisyBanks12


Anonymous said...

Great post! Daisy, I have the same "getting started" blues. Just got back my latest from beta readers and—you guessed it—the first chapters are headed for the dead kittens file...

Unknown said...

Great post Daisy!
Sometimes how to start a chapter or the very beginning of a novel, can take up weeks of solid thinking to sort out. I find it's better to plough ahead and write it all down, then go back and cut-cut-cut

Anonymous said...

Hi Sue,
thanks so much for hosting me.
I've been tied up with a family illness the last few days so my apologies for not commenting sooner.