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Manuscript Evaluation | Part 5: Action, Settings and Descriptions, Pacing

Analysis by Mark Orrin

Action

You handle action scenes quite well in many sections of the book; this is one of your writing’s strengths, I think. You get people smoothly from place to place, in and out of events and through tussles pretty effectively most of the time. One problem you have, though, involves over-description of places and settings that can bring your action to a halt. Get some of Louis L’Amour’s novels and study how he handles fight scenes. Study Clancy for handling high-tech action. Again, the remedy for these flaws is close study of those who’ve done well what you’re trying to do.

Settings and Descriptions

Here’s an area in which you frequently over-use the gifts you have. While you do need to give readers sharp visual and tactile impressions of where they are, you don’t need to do so exhaustively. Use few details, well-painted, and the reader’s imagination will fill in the rest of the picture. But don’t stop action in its tracks telling readers all the minutiae in the settings and places within which you conduct your action.

Time Passage – “Pacing”

Within some individual scenes your sense of narrative pace is sure, but overall, for many reasons I’ve already cited, the action doesn’t flow well. I sense this may result from your trying over-hard not to miss relating every detail of action and/or character you may feel pertinent. But a “natural” storyteller has a sense of the passage of time. Events must seem to readers to be taking place at the pace and within the time frame the novelist allots to them. To know when to slow things down, speed them up – these are instincts I don’t feel strongly operative in your narrative writing. You might learn a few things from a book like Scott Meredith’s Writing to Sell, which contains in its center a good “primer” on basic narrative. Usually a fairly recent edition of this half-century-old classic can be gotten on eBay; I think you’d find it helpful if you want to continue trying to write fiction-style narrative.

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Part 1: Introduction/Overall Assessment

Part 2: Characters

Part 3: Points of View

Part 4: Dialogue

Part 5: Action, Settings and Descriptions, Pacing

Part 6: Plot Movement / Resolution, Audience Appeal, Moving Forward

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Book Editing Associates

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