Advice from me? On writing? Surely you jest.
Since my novel has been pushed so far out (Spring 2009, baybee) it feels weird for me to offer writing advice. After all, it won't be two or six months before my book comes out...it will be EIGHTEEN. How will you possibly know if I'm full of bollocks until then?
So, I thought I'd share what I poached from the late, great Barbara Cartland.
Yes, Barbara Cartland. She who lived like a gaudy princess of old and wrote nine bajillion of these little babies like in the picture (and say what you will about those old regency romances, but I friggin love those! No Barbara hate in the comments!).
Barbara said that the best way to write a quick read was to remember that the reader gets bored with long paragraphs. The eye slows down and wanders over very thick passages. To keep the action quick and the pace lively, make your paragraphs short.
I totally live by this.
Here's an example of how breaking up your text makes a difference. I'll even quote my upcoming Sex Starved novel (lawd, aren't I shameless) as an example:
"Good morning. I'm Jackie Brighton, the tour docent. Are you read-"
I had to break off because the man was staring at me with the most unnerving look on his face.
"Hi," he whispered after a rather long moment.
"Um, hi." There was always one weirdo, I thought with irritation, and tried again. "I'll be the docent for your trip through our museum. Think you could gather your students around and we could get started, Mister..." I waited patiently for a name.
He put his left hand in his pocket as I spoke, and when it emerged, it was ringless, with a nice white tan line where a wedding band should go.
I like to think that it moves fairly fast. There's no place for the eyeball to really sit for a spell and rest and relax. The story is zooming past it. Now, you could clump all the punchy statements into the same paragraph, but you're still going to have some breaks in there, because there's dialogue - back and forth interaction - between characters.
DIALOGUE IS CRUCIAL.
Trust me, I've written the hundred page self-exploratory trek through the woods where the character talks to no one but herself (the reader isn't fooled, btw; this still isn't dialogue). This is boring as hell to the reader. Trust me. There has got to be interaction, and in my (big fat) opinion, conversationally so.
Ever seen a book where one character just busts out into a litany of conversation and everyone around him sits and nods? Does this happen all the time in real life? Are you chatting with your girlfriends and suddenly you launch into a twenty minute conversation (not spiel) about the history of the city you live in? No? So why do your characters do it?
Short and punchy, my friends. And conversational. It's the only way to keep us easily distracted people hooked.
And mind you, this little trick won't work for everyone - heck, it may not suit you at all - but I live by it. CARTLAND FTW!