HSW March 2021 Newsletter

Next HSW Meeting 

Saturday March 13 at 10 am via Zoom. 


Shameless Self-promotion
2021 Writing Contest
First Pages
Increasing Pace


How to develop a page-turner? It’s not all about having a fast-moving plot. A lot can be accomplished with the structure of sentences and paragraphs.

We’ll workshop the mechanics of how to increase pace. Bring pages that you’d like to improve.

Writing Contest Discussion

We are looking at the categories for the 2021 writing contest and would like to get feedback from everyone on what they’d like to see.  (See article below.)

First Pages

Matt will be doing First Pages at this meeting.  If you have a first page you would like feedback on, please send it by Friday, March 12 to MattBayan@aol.com  For easy reading, please use 12 point Times New Roman and double space.  Do not include your name on the page, but indicate the genre. 

Link information for the Zoom meeting will be sent in a blast to members, but will also be posted on the High Sierra Writers website and on our Facebook page on the Thursday before the meeting.

From the President:


It’s inevitable that at some point in writing a novel, the author feels like a scene or a chapter is laying there like a dead fish and stinking up the room. What to do?

Pace is frequently the culprit. We want to write a page turner. “What am I doing wrong?” we say.

Let’s assume that the information revealed in the scene is important, but it just doesn’t seem to flow. How to add zip to the writing?

The simplest way to fix a flabby scene is to break long sentences into short sentences. In doing this it might also be possible to drop phrases that are not needed between staccato sentences. By bringing the POV closer to the character, we can also raise a sense of tension which helps move a scene along.

Example 1:

He never took shortcuts at night, having a great fear of confrontation that probably stemmed from being mugged in high school. He stood at the entrance of the alley that he had passed a million times. He wanted to walk past it, but taking the shortcut would shave five minutes off his trip home and he really needed to get home.


He stood at the entrance to the dark alley. His heart boomed in his ears.

He never considered taking this shortcut before. Too dangerous. But tonight…

He had to get home.

He gritted his teeth. Took a deep breath. Stepped into the darkness.

The above example does two things that can step up pace. First, short sentences. Second, frequent paragraphing. When readers see white space around paragraphs, they read at a faster pace. Short sentences and short paragraphs accelerate that process.

Another technique for speeding up a scene is to add dialogue. Particularly dialogue with conflict. It’s possible to get rid of a lot of explanation and description by letting characters speak.

Example 2:

John was upset with Claire as he walked into the kitchen. Once again she had forgotten to pick up the kids from school. This seemed to happen with more frequency lately. John wondered if she had been drinking again even after she had promised him over and over that she would stop. He wondered if AA was just an excuse she used to get out of the house, get away from his accusations. What did she really do there? Did she actually go or did she wander the streets? He realized he really didn’t know his wife anymore.


“Dammit, Claire, you forgot the kids again. The school called me at work to pick them up.” John dropped his briefcase on the kitchen floor.

“I… I was cooking.”

“Cooking what? A rum cake? Did you just skip the cake?”

“That’s not fair. I’ve been going to AA.”

“Do you actually walk through the door?”

“I go. I have a sponsor.”

“I’m beginning to think your sponsor is the bartender down at Bailey’s.”

She looks down. Wipes her hands with a dish towel.

John says, “I don’t know you anymore.”

The above example is 98 words. The alternative is 91. Which one has a faster pace?

Another way to move things along is to skip. Think of watching a movie. Directors jump out of a scene into another scene and the audience has no problem with the shift. In movies this is called jump-cutting. Try it for increasing pace.

It’s not necessary to show every detail, particularly regarding time.  

Example 3:

Jane’s father handed her the keys. Her eyes flew wide. “Oh, Daddy, this is the best birthday I’ve ever had.”

“Just make sure you drive carefully. Or I take the keys back.”

“No problem,” she said.

She hurried upstairs and changed out of her school clothes, put on jeans and a pink T-shirt. She combed her hair quickly and dabbed perfume on her neck. She ran down the stairs and out to the driveway. Realizing she forgot her purse, she ran back into the kitchen. Will I never get out of here, she thought.

Finally she got out to the driveway.

There it is. My ticket to freedom.

Where should I go first? Who should I see?

Yada yada.

Alternative 3:

Jane’s father handed her the keys. Her eyes flew wide. “Oh, Daddy, this is the best birthday I’ve ever had.”

She mashed down the clutch, upshifted, then popped it. The Mustang threw her back against the seat.

Giddy at her new freedom, she tried to think of who to take for a ride.

By putting space between these paragraphs, we get a jump cut to eliminate all the business needed to get out of the house. This could also be done by starting a new chapter.

Corbett Rescheduled

At our February meeting, we had planned to have best-selling author David Corbett join us to discuss how to create compelling characters. Due to a miscommunication, Corbett was not available for the meeting, so we have now rescheduled and confirmed this presentation to the May 8th meeting. Mark your calendars now. You don’t want to miss this meeting.

HSW Writing Contest Logo

2021 Writing Contest

While Rene and Troy are planning the 2021 contest, they could use some input from all of you.

With last year’s contest, we learned that more members entered the First Chapter and Flash Fiction categories than the Short Story one. So, we are thinking of replacing that category with a different one., but we need help deciding which one.

We can do Children’s Books, Poetry, Essay, Movie or TV Scripts or narrow down more on a specific genre, such as Thriller Chapter, Romance Chapter, or Fantasy Chapter. Or, we could include one that is more geared to getting an agent, such as a query letter for your book with a brief synopsis, a 1000 word synopsis, or writing 150 word advertising hooks (minimum of three in an entry for the same book.)

With that in mind, let’s take about fifteen minutes at the next meeting to get some feedback. Alternately, you can email your thoughts on it to board@highsierrawriters.org

Adventure Writers’ Competition

Do you have an adventure novel almost ready to publish or even one you’ve published since January? Here’s a chance to win some cash and recognition for that book — the annual Adventure Writers’ Competition

Bobby Devin sent this information about the event:

The Clive Cussler Family has funded this for 
– a $1000. first, place prize, and 
– two runners-up  prizes of $500.
All winners will have an introduction to Braveship Books Publishing.

The entry fee is $35. Contest entries must be in by April 30th. For all details, rules, and how to enter, go to:


New Book Release!

High Sierra Writers has many published writers in the group. We have a page featuring the various books grouped by author under genre. These are under HSW Writers link. As our authors release new books, we’ll feature them here.

Releasing in March, L.F. Falconer (Leanna) is releasing a new suspense and horror short story collection, Beyond the Veil. Leanna has had several short stories accepted by various magazines and has won quite a few awards for her work. Of this new collection, Falconer says:

“Like a portal to a world of otherness, a short story beckons. A hired killer speaks with the dead. A charnel isle holds an ancient secret. A gold miner’s daughter attempts to fulfill a family promise. Venture inside the pages of these stories and more with a look Beyond the Veil.

Please support your fellow HSW members by reading and providing an honest review their books. If you have a book ready to release this month or next month, send the a short blurb, sales link, and the cover image to RPAverett@gmail.com to be included in the newsletter. Rene will also list them on the High Sierra Writers webpage under HSW Authors.



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