Thursday, February 11, 2010

Timothy Zahn and My Writing Style

Timothy Zahn has written many sci-fi books, most notably his Star Wars series. The first set was The Thrawn Trilogy, released from 1992-1994.

One thing I noticed when reading these books - his writing is rapid fire. Most of his paragraphs are only a few sentences in length. He doesn't waste a lot of time with descriptions, but gets right into the action and exchange of dialogue.

Sometimes I enjoy a deep, descriptive, thoughtful book. But often, I want something I can jump right into and be captivated within the first few pages. Maybe I'm just a simple guy, but sometimes I don't want my reading material to be overly deep or feel like work. If comparing these styles of writing to movies, sometimes I enjoy a 2001: A Space Odyssey, but most of the time, I want an Aliens.

How does my reading preference affect my writing style? Well, I'm not as action-orientated as Zahn (and certainly not as good!) but I've tried to keep the storyline moving at a good pace. There's some great action sequences, but even in the slower, more dramatic moments, I've kept my feet moving so to speak. I don't go into major details as far as descriptions, either. I like using my imagination and don't need four paragraphs telling me what a character looks like. Hopefully I'm on the mark that other readers enjoy using their imagination as well.

So for my writer/author friends out there, how is the pacing in your work? Are you slow, crafting and atmosphere-building or are you rapid-fire? And has another author influenced the pacing in your book?


Unknown said...

Alex it sounds like your writing style is exactly the kind of book I enjoy reading. True, readers do enjoy using their imaginations.

Overly-descriptive prose can put me to sleep.
The best read is one that grabs you from the beginning and you hate to put down. When you have difficulty finding a *good* place to stop reading, THAT is a good book!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I've always loved Anne McCaffrey's books and my pacing is probably close to hers - there's action, but the focus is on the relationships. In some areas, I move faster, in others, a little slower. However, really slow paced books make me nuts!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I like things to move along...I tend to get impatient with description when reading, so include less of it when writing, too.

I think a lot of popular fiction has the short sentence/short paragraph/short chapter structure. I'm guessing our attention spans aren't what they used to be. :)

Mystery Writing is Murder

The Old Silly said...

Zahn understands pace and uses it to his desired effect. You seem to understand this very important element in crafting a good book, also. I like to change the pace up, using varieties of speed to further enhance the experience. Just like life, after a hectic, frantic, gotta get it done right now expereince, we need some R&R to recuperate, hmm?

Marvin D Wilson

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

So true, Marvin!
And it's nice to hear that others like a quick-paced, easy reading book.

Helen Ginger said...

I tend to move quickly through the story on the initial writing, then slow it down or add the senses and descriptions in the long editing phase.

Straight From Hel

Brenda said...

I'm with you on liking my reading to be quick and easy. If I don't enjoy reading, and I have to concentrate and work at it, it's just not fun anymore.

JournoMich said...

I wouldn't say I've totally found my voice yet, but I am greatly influenced by both Nelson DeMille and Elizabeth Kostova. If I can find some meeting of the two (for they're both so different), with DeMille's dry humor and pacing, and Kostova's brilliant storytelling and glorious imagery, then I'll be happy. I suppose it's obvious: not rapid-fire. Great question!


Jemi Fraser said...

I write with a pretty quick pace as well. If anything I'll probably have to go back and add description :)

Hannah said...

I loved that Timothy Zahn series!

I tend to stray more towards the page turners when I read as well.

I try to find a happy medium when I'm writing, be descriptive but never overly so. I like to leave a bit up to the imagination. Otherwise, if you force an image into someone's head it takes them out of the story and I want to entice readers not hurt their brains.

jdsanc said...

I always say I love Cormac McCarthy. I love his, just-the-facts writing style. I could never write like that, I've just got too much to say, but I do love, love, love reading it. See. Cormac would have said, Nice.