Don’t Drown Your Food…Er…Words

February 7, 2010

This was one of my favorite Saturday morning cartoon PSA’s.  I never really agreed with it.  I mean, who doesn’t like to pile on the sour cream or ranch dressing.  But the fact is, it’s FAT.

FAT.  What does that have to do with your YA manuscript?  A lot.

Young Adult as a genre has a lower word count because the pace is extremely important.  Bog down your manuscript with needless description, or endless flowery prose, and you’ll lose your reader.

I like to use Dean Koontz as an example, although he’s not writing YA.  Not too long ago, I was listening to Odd Hours on CD while driving to and from work.  I found my mind wandering during parts that rambled about the fog creeping over the fence like a cat in the night. <– Don’t quote this – it’s from memory and serves as an example of one of my take aways from the book. 

It bored me. 

A lot.

I don’t care to hear a ten minute, simile filled diatribe about fog.  I don’t care to read it either.  It’s especially bothersome in YA.

Yes, you need details.  Yes, similes are nice–I use them!  Just find the balance. 

Don’t drown your words, or you’ll lose your readers.

Happy writing!

Got examples?  What book had great pace, or dragged on and lost your interest?  Let us know in the comments.



  1. Hunger games has fabulous pacing. Almost had a heart attack at every page!

  2. The description of the love shared between Lyra and Will in “The Amber Spyglass” made me want to retch. I get that it was supposed to be wonderful and prophetic and whatever, but I wasn’t feeling it because those kids were supposed to be 12.

  3. I agree with this. Great post 🙂

  4. I agree, Hunger Games had fabulous pacing. Inkheart on the other hand is the first book that pops into my head when I think about a book with slow pacing. I almost put it aside so many times because it just got boring and repetitive.

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