Hello again everyone and welcome to another prompt post, this week with the ever increasing, danger inspiring word of urgent. This word is quite an important one to use when writing novels, and the theme of urgency and pace is even more so. Let’s look into this further.
Tip #1: now, when I think of urgency in my novels I think of pacing and driving the plot forward. There will be moments in your novels, as in life, that your pace will reach a point of urgency that needs to pull readers along at a fair pace. Now, this means that short and snappy sentences are key here to creating the right energy, but there’s more you can do beyond that. One of the simplest concepts is that of the ticking clock. Let’s say your protagonist’s brother is due for execution at sunrise and your protagonist plans to stop it happening. There you have your clock, and it gives the poor man till sunrise try and arrange an elaborate plan to rescue said brother. Already you have that sense of time hanging over every scene, but you can make it stronger by having the character constantly peeking at his watch, the car breaking down and costing valuable hours, and maybe he even gets knocked out and wakes up with barely an hour before his plan is supposed to be in motion. When creating a sense or urgency in your stories, time is your friend.
Tip #2: Now, continuing with the above example we come to my next point: why should we care? If you open the story with this intense and urgent scene people won’t have enough emotional investment to be concerned for the main character and his brother. To create the right sense of urgency you must give your readers time to invest themselves in your characters, so that when the danger kicks in they care about their fates. So let’s say about halfway through the novel this scene with the rescue happens. Maybe your protagonist is on a mission to reunite his dying father with all of his errant sons, including the one about to be executed, because he made the old man a promise. Now, not only is there another ticking clock, but we have reasons to be invested in this success. You could add in a family for the soon to be executed brother too, but the important thing is to give your readers reasons to care about your characters, or the urgency will never grip them the way you want it to.
Tip #3: My final suggestion for creating urgency would be dramatic irony. Let your readers into information that your main character isn’t aware of to ratchet up that sense of urgency. Maybe the execution had been brought forward by a few hours so that our protagonist is plotting his rescue too late. Now a new sense of urgency will grip your readers as they wonder if the protagonist can find out in time. Maybe the father’s condition is getting worse, with the doctors unsure if anyone will make it back in time. Now not only are your character feeling that pressure, but your readers will be holding their breath in anticipation. This last one is a simple tool but when used correctly in conjunction with my other tips can create a truly thrilling atmosphere to hook your readers.
That’s it for this week’s post, and I hope you all thoroughly enjoyed it. My writing muscles are feeling thoroughly stretched (and my typing fingers are definitely stronger than they were), which is a good thing with NaNoWriMo inching closer to the horizon. I will have one more post next week, and then the following will be the November launch post to celebrate the beginning of a competition that will devour the free time of all involved. I hope to see you there.