This post is five days late due to life bumping in the way :-). However, I still want to cover it. When it comes to revising, the next step that I look at is my pacing. Pacing is super important as it can make the difference between you reader turning the pages eagerly, and your reader putting the book down and going out instead.
Pacing is what controls the speed and rhythm of your story, and you must be in charge of when and where to speed things up, slow them down, or suddenly spike. These things really shouldn’t be left to chance if you can help it.
When I focus on looking at my pacing, I divide it into two separate categories: structural, and word choice/sentence construction. Let’s look at structural first.
This is the overall scene pacing and how they connect together throughout the book. You need to look and see whether your action scenes balance out your slower scene. Are you all action all the time? Your reader might get a bit tired with all that rushing about (though this sometimes works well in a thriller). However, the most likely case is that your pacing might sag in the middle. This is where you’ve got caught up in the story, showing lots of things, but forgetting to keep momentum. Personally, I make a list of my scenes and see whether they are action packed or not. Then I look to see how I can balance one against the other.
Another technique you can use is a cliffhanger. Or a prolonged answer. This leaves the reader desperate to know more, and will speed up sloppy pacing. However, should you be rushing ahead too fast, don’t forget to get inside your character’s head a little more and explore your novel a little deeper. For speeding up, you can also use short summaries occasionally instead of full blown scenes, cut any unnecessary scenes, or have a few big things happen all at once.
SENTENCE LEVEL PACING
Which words you choose and how you use them can have a big impact on your pacing. If you want to slow it down, then you’d be looking to use longer sentences, softer paragraphs, more descriptions or internal thought, for example. You can even get into more world building, theme ideas, and subplots (which are a fantastic way to flesh out a book, too).
If picking up the speed is your goal, then using fragments, shorter sentences, punchier verbs, active phrasing, and zippy dialogue can make or break it for you. A rapid fire, tense dialogue section will get things ramping up, full of power and tension. Just as a more relaxed conversation talking about the complexities of life would slow it down.
You need to combine both structural and sentence level pacing in order to have full mastery over your writing and pacing. If not, then it might just be left to fate to decide for you, and it’s usually much better if you do the choosing!
Thanks for stopping by the blog this week! As the holiday season is upon us, I might be a little patchy with blog posts until the New Year is over. Don’t worry, I’ve not forgotten you!