Nancy's Books

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pacing, Dialog, and Narrative/Call for Submissions

Today, I’m continuing the series, Writing a Middle Grade Novel and focusing on pacing. 

Use scenes to heighten the tension. Treat your characters badly; then treat them worse. Just when the reader thinks things cannot get worse for the character, surprise the reader with more problems, bigger problems.


“Let’s go,” Annie said. 

“Where,” Lucy answered. 

“Anywhere to dodge the bullets,” Annie said. 

This dialog is rapid-fire, pardon the pun, with short phrases and no narrative, which works well in scenes that are fast. Trimming the sentence of all but essential words speeds the action.  

Other scenes benefit by incorporating narrative along with dialog.  

“Move over,” Annie said. A smile covered her face as she reached out and placed a gentle hand on Lucy’s shoulder.

“No,” Lucy answered as she jerked away. She crossed her arms over her chest, a sure sign that a stubborn spell gripped the six-year-old. 

The narrative illustrates the attitudes of each character by showing their actions and reactions as it slows the action. 

Move the story forward with dialog that introduces new information or reveals something new about the character. The marriage of narrative and dialog takes the plot forward as characters develop, little by little.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

 Spellbound is a fantasy magazine for children ages 8-12.

Published quarterly, each issue contains fantasy stories, poetry, art and more all centered around a featured creature.  Issues come in a DRM-free ePub format.  The e-zine can be read on Nooks, Kindles, iPads, Kobos and many other ereaders, as well as laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones.
Spellbound is dedicated to putting together a publication that emphasizes diversity and inclusiveness.  We actively seek stories, poetry and artwork that reflect a wide range of cultures, and characters. We believe that stories are important and can change the world and we hope to have a positive impact on young readers.
Submission guidelines:


  1. Another very useful post. Thanks, Nancy.

  2. Using dialog and narrative effectively adds tension and suspense, as well as speeding and slowing the action. Glad you found the post useful. Happy writing.