Pacing your writing is, in essence, an issue about content. It’s about how many words you use to describe people, events and everything else in your novel. If the pace in your novel is too fast, the reader will get tired and confused. On the other hand, if the pace is too slow, it will bore the reader. Either way, you’ve lost them. It’s really hard to achieve the perfect balance between fast pacing and slowing down in your novel, especially if you feel that slowing down will tire the readers, but there are several key techniques that will help you turn your writing into the best version of itself.
1. Build contrast
The main key to balancing the pace in your novel is creating contrast between slow and fact paced, action filled scenes. Begin your novel with an action filled scene and then slow down and explain to the reader what exactly is happening and why. You’ve intrigued the reader with the action packed scene, but before they had a chance to get exhausted from the action, you’ve slowed down and allowed them to take a breather. Alternating between slow and fast scenes helps you to build momentum in your novel. It stops it from feeling uneven and melodramatic, and it prevents your big revelations and twists from feeling anticlimactic.
2. Control sentence length
This is a technique that helps you build the slow and fast scenes accordingly. By controlling the length of the words and the sentences, you are controlling the pace in your novel. Remember to use short sentences when writing action packed scenes because they’re easier to follow. On the other hand, slow scenes tend to be filled with longer sentences and descriptions that help slow the pace down.
3. Show vs. tell
The number one rule about writing fiction is show, instead of tell. If you can show instead of tell something to the reader, do it. However, just like every other rule, it needs to be used on occasion. Showing everything to the reader might slow down the pace of your novel way too much. Sometimes, you need to get through a point or an event in your novel quickly and then throw your reader into the aftermath. In such instances, you can do this by telling the reader that something happened and then showing the aftermath.
4. Add suspense
Use the slow scenes to add a feel of suspense for the upcoming action packed scenes. Write longer sentences, add more details into your descriptions, and use them to create a sense of foreboding into your readers. The scene is slow, the pace is slow, but the readers are kept on the edge of their seats, hanging onto your every word, and waiting for the storm to come with every new paragraph. Create a tension filled atmosphere that creeps into the reader and makes the action packed scene much more exciting when it happens, and when they least thought it would, even though they were expecting it.
5. Flashbacks and reflections
Flashback scenes and moments when the characters reflect on their actions and decisions up until that point, are a good way to slow the pace down after a scene filled with action. They also help you move your plot forward, especially the flashback scenes, by drawing parallels and foreshadowing. However, these scenes can easily be considered dangerous; you have to make sure to write them in such a way as to not throw your reader completely out of your story.
Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic. As a 22-year-old art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.