One of the elements of writing contemporary fiction that we don’t talk about very often is PACING. When you think of the tempo of the piece, or how the reader gets swept away with the story, you are concentrating on the PACING of the story.
Pacing is the rhythm of a story. Every story will have its ups and downs, and within each of those, the pacing will be different.
This technique controls the speed and intensity of your story. Your pacing is vital to your reader. And, as a writer, you need to think about how your pacing affects the reader. Too many fast-paced scenes and you will leave your reader worn out. Conversely, if you have too many slow-paced scenes, your reader will become bored and may stop reading.
As the author, you have to find a way to mix them up so that you do not lose your readers. One of the best ways to do this is to mix up your scenes and sequels. You will have more scenes (which are faster) than sequels (which are slower).
One technique you can use is to SPEED UP your story in critical places.
Here is an exercise that will help you develop this skill:
Write a scene where your character experiences something unsettling. This can be finding out a loved one has died, or they found their spouse in bed with somebody else.
- Keep most of your sentences short.
- Use the active voice.
- Use fragments. Example: ‘David’s heart races. Jealousy is a terrible thing. Cold. Dark. No end in sight.’
- Take out unnecessary adverbs and adjectives.
- Use dialogue.
Write the scene in the third person present tense.
- Remember to Name your characters.
- Use the the five senses, dialogue, and the internal thoughts of the viewpoint character.
- ‘Show’ the setting of your story through the viewpoint character’s interaction with it.
Now, apply this technique to your WIP. Does the flow of the story seem better? Good. Pacing within your story is a crucial way to keep your reader glued to the page.
Until next time,