What Is The Purpose Of Pacing?

Pacing sets the tempo for the novel. How fast or slow it moves depends on the function of the scene and the intent of the author. As discussed in my previous blog, you can speed your story up or slow it down based on how you use exposition and action.

When introducing new characters or interjecting scenes of day to day life, your pacing is usually slow.

Intensely dramatic or violent scenes can be either fast or slow depending on your intent. If you slow down the scene, you can ring out the last bit of suspense and mystery as well as heighten the drama by stretching out something that occurs in seconds. Slowing down the pace to dramatize the most important moments of the story works really well too.

Sudden shifts in pacing from slow to fast can shock your reader and make your book memorable.

Nicholas Sparks is a great example for sudden shifts in pacing. In his books Message In a Bottle and The Best Of Me, he uses the entire book to build a relationship between the main characters only to kill one of them off on the last page. I was totally shocked and a little mad after reading those books. I like happy endings. But he achieved what he set out to do. They evoked strong emotions and I’ve never forgotten them.

Tolkein’s The Lord Of The Rings, vacillates between exposition and action. The varied pace and information provided, allows us to visit middle earth and participate in it’s history. 

Remember fast pacing is action packed leaving us breathless and slow pacing is  meditative and dramatic.

Expository scenes are to give the reader a breather and prepare them for what comes next.

Pacing is an important part of your novel, and if you are a novice, it’s something you probably haven’t given much thought too.  I know I didn’t. I love to read and knew that some of the books I read were more fast paced than others, but didn’t stop to think that the author made them that way.

When you begin the editing process, pacing is another fundamental to add to your list of things to review.

Hope this blog got you thinking. I would love to hear from you. If you have any comments on this blog or suggestions to make it better please let me know.

Also I would like to ask you to consider following me. By signing up you will receive notices through email whenever I update or publish a new blog.

-Jan R

What Is The Purpose Of Pacing?

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