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Book: From Inspiration to Publication: How to Succeed as a Children’s Writer: Advice from 15 Award Winning Writers by Pamela Glass Kelly
My dice roll: 102
Lesson: Pacing your book’s middle section
Breakneck drama on page after page becomes exhausting. Genuine emotion adds depth to action. In the middle of a novel, move between the subplots and primary story. Vary the length and rhythm of the sentences.
My example scene blends two of the subplots and the primary story.
“Tirza died giving birth to my youngest, last December. Did your father fail to mention that?”
Wend stood up. She stepped toward him, but he moved away.
“He did tell me that, yes,” she replied softly.
“I have no intention of reliving such a moment. You will stop fretting over that which I will not expect of you. We will have no need of a honeymoon.” His cheeks puffed out and his upper lip curled up, as if ill from the word. “I consider this topic of conversation closed now. Our appointment with the wedding planner is at three this afternoon. I will be here promptly at one forty-five to pick you up. Please see that you are ready. Good day.”
“Aren’t you staying for breakfast?” Wend called out to him as her mind spun.
“I have lost my appetite,” he said, stepping on to the path that led toward the front of the house. He paused for a moment. “Oh, and as for that pet you were holding when I arrived, feel free to bring it with you when you move in, assuming it is up to date on its shots. It will be easier for you to bond with the children if they see you with a pet. They love animals.”
Wend watched as he left. Her mother opened the patio door to ask why he had gone, and Wend said that he was no longer hungry. She caught the sound of her mother’s worried breathing and quickly added that Tred would be back that afternoon to take her to the wedding planner.
She barely uttered a word all throughout breakfast. The leveret, which her dad brought in, needed a name. As everyone nibbled on their eggs, bacon, and toast, ideas were tossed around. Yule was finally chosen, as it had come to them so close to Christmas. Wend wasn’t sure who had suggested that name. She might very well have proposed it herself for all the attention and focus her mind had left in it.
Once the food was gone and the dishes cleared, she asked Danielle for a ride. She waited until they were in the car before she gave her sister approximate directions to the motor inn. She sat perfectly still, clutched her purse in her lap, and gave no coherent answers to whatever idle chitchat Danielle made.
Ignoring her sister’s remarks about the condition of the place, Wend climbed out of the parked car. She walked to her room, unlocked the door, and retrieved her phone.
“You’re lucky it was still here. Housekeeping in a place like this probably would have stolen it,” Danielle scolded.
Wend stared at her sister for a moment, and then turned to face the bed. She slammed her fist onto it, which caused a small dust cloud to prove that there seemed to be no housekeeping. She looked at Danielle again, whose eyes were wide with both shock and disgust, and then stepped outside.
“Whitebread baby hooker? Damn, you clean up nice!” The woman in the rental office said, as Wend walked in. Without a word of reply, Wend dropped the key on the desk, said that she was checking out, and then marched back outside.
Danielle rushed behind her sister. She asked questions and made comments, but Wend was deaf to them all. She walked to the ocean. She stared at her phone, clutching it hard enough to dent her skin. It was connected to no one, as she hadn’t dialed a number. Yet, as everything finally boiled out of her, it was the little phone in her hand to which her shouts were aimed.
“This isn’t funny! Putting me at the crossroads between a man who has flat out told me that he will never really want me, and has no intention of giving me the affection that a husband is meant to share with his wife, or a man who is a complete stranger and refuses to make me a priority, even when I am in immediate danger, is not funny! I am not amused! Do you hear me? I AM NOT AMUSED!”
The waves rose higher and crashed farther in at the shoreline. The dry sand she stood on was now covered in water that neared the height of her knees. The wind whipped in from the sea and blew foam over the beach. Danielle had backed away from the breaking water, and now struggled to avoid being sprayed. She called to her sister, but the near gale force winds did not allow much sound to carry.
“Is this all that life has to offer me? Am I doomed to have a husband that does not want me? Am I that hideous? Tell me what I have done to offend so badly!” Her voice shook with her final scream. The last of the anger she could muster turned to sorrow.
Wend dropped to her knees. The surf slammed her chest. The salty ocean mixed with her teardrops. Danielle screamed loudly in the distance as she fought to reach Wend, the wind and tide making it impossible.
“Please. Please, I beg you! I know everyone needs to be tested and that there are lessons that need to be learned in life; but please, please, do not send me to this battle. Please do not lead me on to a path where I will be unwanted for the rest of my life. Please! I will do anything else you ask. But not this. Please. Please, I cannot take this.”
The wind grew stronger as she pleaded. The water was up to her chin now. Her body shivered from the cold, but she didn’t notice it. Her sister shrieked in the distance, but she couldn’t hear it. Her mouth was drenched with awful salt water, but she didn’t taste it.
A white dove slammed into her head. That, she noticed.
She sprang to her feet. The bird was tangled in her hair. She grabbed it with one hand and held it steady as she half ran half swam out of the water.
“Wend, are you alright? What were you thinking? What is on your head?” Danielle asked.
“Injured bird caught in my hair -do something!” Wend sputtered.
The sisters rushed to the car as best they could. Danielle worked to free the bird, which cooed softly. It displayed none of the expected resistance, fear, or fight. Once it was untangled, it simply flew away as if nothing had happened.
At Wend’s request, despite Danielle’s disapproval, they stopped at the mobile phone store on their way home. Wend walked in, dripping wet and looking frightful. She set her now ruined phone on the counter.
“These aren’t very good swimmers, you know,” the clerk joked, handing her a replacement phone.
Could you feel Wend’s pain? How would you handle being in her situation?
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