Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pacing and Marcus Sakey

by Tom Schreck, author of the Duffy Series

Have you ever read a mystery that should've been good but you just couldn't quite get into it?
Marcus and me at Bouchercon

It's like that lawnmower of mine that wouldn't work this morning--it starts and stops, it sputters, it kicks, it groans but it doesn't quite get the job done.

Then there are other books that make you keep turning the page. Maybe it's the short chapters or maybe it's the hint of suspension, but you keep losing sleep and staying up late at night.

There are also the books that try for that and they start to cry "Wolf!" at you. They feed you so many red herrings that you get mercury poisoning. Every chapter is the Hindenburg, the Titanic and Pearl Harbor rolled together. It can't sustain energy and it becomes tedious.

Good pacing doesn't shove you into a dark alley. It coaxes you, luring you with the promise of a pay off. It keeps you hungry without feeding you empty calories.

You know it when you read it. My buddy Marcus Sakey rocks it. His books suck you in and before you know it the plane has landed, you're sunburn or you missed the early and the late NFL games. His latest is Brilliance.

At the same time you don't feel cheated into a cheap outcome or a fake turn of events. His books feel organic in the way they build suspenseful pacing.

Don't go read a book on pacing. Go read Sakey.

Then curse when you can't do it as well as he does.


  1. I've heard many writers praise Brilliance, and it's on my list! Thanks for the reminder.

    And Sakey's pacing skill may explain why he's won so many awards and been option for film.

  2. Wow, Tom. I'm off to check Sakey out now. Thanks for the tip.


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