How to KEEP YOUR WRITING FOCUSED

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Let's face it, I'm really blunt. I don't go on many tangents (I hope?), and I hate listening to stories that go in circles. Pacing is something I'm terrible at because my pacing is always way too fast. However, if your pacing is too SLOW, if people say your story drags and puts them to sleep, I can show you how to speed things up.

To have a quick pace, the best thing to do is look at every single sentence, every single word, and ask yourself, "If I cut this out, will the scene still make sense? Will I still be getting across the same (or very similar) feel/vibe/mood/information if this chapter/scene/paragraph/sentence/word isn't there?

A lot of people get bogged down in irrelevant descriptions, dialogues, or narration. If you're one of those people, here's how you can fix that:

Remember that chapter where I linked to a worksheet where you outline all the scenes in your novel? There was a column at the end for the "purpose" of the scene. What you can do is either before of after writing a scene, write down the purpose of the scene. Why is that scene in your novel? How does it add to the story in terms of plot, character, or world development? Then go through each sentence of the scene and relate it back to that original purpose. Does that sentence further develop or help you accomplish that purpose? If the answer is "no", you can probably cut that out.

The thing to keep in mind about the purpose is that it *must* either develop the character(s), plot, or world. And with world development, there should still be some character/plot development in there.

Recall the plotting chapter that outlined the steps in the Internal Problem and the External Problem. The internal problem is what the character faces with himself/herself/itself. The external problem is what's happening in terms of physical actions or words with other characters/events. So an internal problem could be a struggle between pleasing everyone else while forsaking their own happiness. An external problem could be a murder mystery.

These are the overall two purposes of the entire novel: solving/accomplishing/failing the inner conflict and external conflict. Then each minor purpose, the one you write for each scene, should have something to do with either or both of those two overarching conflicts.

I'll exemplify this with the opening of the movie Iron Man, where Tony got kidnapped by terrorists and was forced to build them a missile:

Internal Conflict: Tony is the biggest weapons developer in the world, but now he wants to save people instead of kill them.
External Conflict: If he doesn't build the missile, he'll get killed by terrorists.

So the first scene is him waking up in the cave and meeting the doctor Yinsen. The purpose of the scene is to show us that he has that electromagnet power thing in his chest. How does this develop one of the two conflicts? he uses that technology to power the first Iron Man suit, which he uses to escape the terrorists.

The next major scene is him coming home and holding a press conference. He announces Stark Industries will no longer be developing weapons. This is an obvious development of the internal conflict.

Of course, you may see some tiny details that seemingly have nothing to do with the overall conflicts: Tony eating a burger. Tony sitting on the floor during the press conference instead of standing up, Tony having a one-night stand with that one reporter lady. But all these details still relate to the Internal Conflict. Tony is usually uncaring about anyone but himself, but now he suddenly wants to help save the world. His self-centered personality needs to be established in order to develop that internal conflict.

Keep in mind the setting/world-building also, indirectly, relates to the two conflicts. The world/society/environment can be used to add to the conflict.

Let's look at the movie Titanic. It was set in 1912 (I think). At that time, girls were supposed to be all proper and ladylike and whatnot. Then Rose falls for Jack, who's a crude, rough-housing scoundrel. had this been set in more recent years, her falling for a so-called badboy/poor kid like Jack may not have been a problem. It's the setting, the society that created the conflict here.

In summary, nearly every chapter, scene, paragraph, sentence, and word should develop one of two main purposes:
1. Internal Conflict
2. External Conflict

So first establish what those conflicts are, then make sure the pupose for each scene complements/develops them. Then go through every word of each scene and make sure they relate and develop that purpose. That's how you can quicken the pace of the story and keep the plot focused without going on irrelevant tangets.

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