Pacing is what keeps your novel bursting with excitement and keeps your reader hooked and begging for more.
What is pacing?
- Pacing is the speed at which you allow your story to unfold
- When you release bits of information or clues
- Time lapses and various sequences of events that need to happen for the story to reach its climax
Stories in different genres are often told at different paces. For example, an adventure story must, by definition, jump from action to action while a crime mystery must unfold at a certain rate with clues along the way.
Ways to Control the Pace of Your Story
Action scenes obviously move the story along rapidly. If the character is in danger, the reader is carried along and on tenterhooks along the way. This finger-biting suspense helps to hasten the pace of the story.
Dialogue is another way to further the action and plot. Since dialogue is not social chit-chat, the reader can often discover plenty if two people are arguing or having a heated discussion. Dialogue that fires back and forth sets a quick tempo that hurries the pace of the novel along.
Every chapter should end on a cliffhanger. They don’t have to be major ‘who killed J.R.’ type cliffhangers, but the reader must always feel reluctant to close the book, wondering what is going to happen next.
Jumping from one character’s POV to another is another good way to set the pace of the novel. Just as the reader is invested in one character’s viewpoint, the author jumps to another and adds a layer of confusion but interest to the reader.
Leaping from one scene to another in quick succession also works well.Short chapters and scenes can quicken the pace of the novel.
Short paragraphs help and zingy, powerful verbs will move the story along and keeps the reader’s interest. Long narrative paragraphs, complicated backstories and detailed exposition tends to make the story dry and could cause the reader to doze off – not what we want.
Sometimes, short fragments or phrases, especially when used for thoughts quicken the pace of the story. Try using onomatopoeic verbs as well where appropriate.Most of all, trim your words. This is best done by writing in an active voice. Passive voice is long, boring and complicated.