PAM…More than a Cooking Spray!

Early in my writing journey, a wise wonderful woman, The Queen of Everything, critiqued SHADOWS in its infant stage. The small bit Marilyn wrote has stayed with me and surpassed all the writing books I’d read.  I know she didn’t call it the P-A-M principle, but that’s what it is.

Every scene needs the same three elements in some form.

Place—set the scene, whether by giving a paragraph or a few sentences to let the reader “see” what and where the characters are.

Action—something has to be happening. Can be a character’s action or reaction.

Movement—the scene must move the story forward. Sometimes, this is where I get stuck, especially when I fall in love with a scene that does nothing. My savvy critique partners don’t let me get by with it.  🙂

With the Where The Magic Begins judging, I will be passing this advice along to beginning writers. Please share any tips that have made a difference in your writing.


11 thoughts on “PAM…More than a Cooking Spray!

  1. Meg,

    I like that PAM acronym. I find that succinct things I can remember as I go help me. I’m going to have to post that one on the wall.

    The senses are place are hard for me. I think it’s because I don’t like long descriptive sections, so I tend to go light on that in my own writing.


  2. I’m with y’all. Going to post this on the wall so I can see it while I write. Thanks for sharing, Meg. And a BIG thanks to the Queen!

  3. Wow! Y’all are all very welcome!

    And for the comma-challenged among you, don’t sweat it. You can always ask someone to put them in for you (I’m available). Besides, the common usage keeps changing. I figure one day soon there will be absolutely NO rules for comma placement. It’s easier than actually trying to teach kids to learn the old rules.

  4. Me again.

    For simple advice: read your dialogue (if not your entire manuscript) out loud. It’s the best way to see if it sounds natural and to catch repetition or awkward phrasing.

    The best advice I ever got was from my former agent: trust in your writing. I had a habit of repeating the same information over and over, and she told me to trust that I’d gotten the point across the first time. Sure, there are some things that are so important to the story that they bear repeating, but never more than a couple times. So often, especially in contests, I see things repeated over and over to the point that I quit paying attention to the story and instead start looking for that.

    So . . . trust that you got your point across the first time. If necessary, repeat it for impact. After that, in most cases, let it go. We got it.

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