So I’m sitting here, working on my 10th book—how did that happen?—and thinking about pacing. As someone who writes fantasy, I’m always faced with a dilemma, a push-pull problem: the need to introduce the world and its rules, without dragging down the plot. I like to think I do this—I certainly do my best—but the simple fact is that those first 100 pages can’t JUST be plot, not in fantasy.
They have to lay foundations.
They have to set up the rest of the book, so that it all makes sense and pays off and the clues add up and the twists work and the punches land and you’re left with a feeling of YES. Because here’s what I think: it’s worth it. Those opening pages, which lay that foundation—I’m not talking about info-dumping, that is nightmarish and just bad writing—and establish your world, they are worth it. They are the incline, pulling the weight like the beginning of a roller coaster so you can get the height needed to have all the heart-wrenching, stomach-dropping turns that come with the drop.
And it’s worth it.
I spent my first seven or eight books fretting about the fact that my first 100 pages are always pulling weight, always slower than the rest of my books, thinking I was failing somehow, thinking if I could just be better, there would be no incline, it would all be drop. I braced myself for all those comments at the 1/3 mark of “I hope this picks up” or “lots of build up so far” and all I could see was that pattern, but over time, I noticed another one.
People got to that hinge point, that drop, and started saying WHEEEEEE.
People got to the end of the ride, and they were exhilarated, happy, ready to go again.
The build-up was worth it.
And I’m really, really proud of that.
It’s taken me a lot of books to see that there’s no wrong way to write a book. That sometimes things that seem like failures are actually necessary parts of success. I’m still striving to get better, obviously, to crank readers up to the top faster, but I’ve decided, I’m okay with the incline. This is how I write.
So if you pick up one of my books, and find the first 100 pages a little slow, stick with me for the rest of the ride.