What Is Pacing?

images-7People who love to read but have never written books are cognizant of the pacing. Pacing sets the tempo of your story. Is it a fast read or did it seem to drag on for days? Hopefully you’ve found a balance between the two and they perform like a fine tuned orchestra.

I have read many good books that I skipped portions of, because I was tired of reading about the duchess’s frilly dress or  inner hull of a slave ship. I’m glad the authors did their homework and provided historical information, but sometimes it can be a bit much and totally bog down your story. I have read other books that were nonstop action that left me wanting; they were missing the details that made the story real and the characters endearing.

So how do you control the pacing of your story since once you start writing it seems to take on a life of it’s own? Be cognizant of the tempo and your audience. You have to strike a balance between the amount of information in the pages you are given and the patience of your reader.

There are three main ways to control the pace of your novel:

  1. The number of pages/words in the novel vs. the time period covered – Long books that depict a short period of time are going to move at a slower pace.  Short stories depicting long periods of time are going to move at a faster pace. This is common sense really.  You have to move a story along faster if you have a limited amount of time to share it.
  2. The density of the narrative – The length of the story versus the number of twists and characters within.
  3. Scenes vs. Exposition                                                                                                          Scenes are the important events that move the story forward.  They are the action and dialogue that occur during the course of the story.                                                    Exposition is the back story or descriptive information that stands outside of the story and slows things down.

I hope this blog helped you get a better idea of what pacing is, and how it effects your novel. I would also recommend that you stop by Quintessentialeditor’s blog from this past week for tips on how to correct your pacing.

Thank you so much for joining me on this journey. If you haven’t added your name to my followers, I would like to ask you to consider following me.  I write a blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays of every week. Followers are notified via email whenever a new post is published.

If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you.

-Jan R

What Is Pacing?

2 thoughts on “What Is Pacing?

  1. Quintessential Editor says:

    Really enjoyable breakdown of the topic! I’m absolutely with you about skipping portions of books (at least when I’m reading for fun and not for work). Scenes vs. Exposition is a big one for me. I find science fiction and fantasy authors really can mess this balance up sometimes. Again, like you mention, I find myself flipping forward to read about a character doing something. You did a great post on showing vs telling a while ago. People can pack their scenes with description through character eyes and solve most of these problems.

    Thanks for giving my space a nod in your post. I’m flattered. If I take a day to talk about any of the elements you wrote about here I will try to remember to embed a link to your page.


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