Pacing sets the tempo of your novel. How fast or slow it moves depends on the function of the scene and the intent of the author. As discussed in a previous blog, you can speed your story up or slow it down depending on how you use exposition and action.
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.
Sudden shifts in pacing from slow to fast can shock your reader and make your book memorable. Nicholas Spark’s books are a great example of 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 its history.
Remember, fast pacing is action-packed leaving your reader breathless, and slow pacing is meditative and dramatic.
While I love action-packed, fast-paced books, I realize we need exposition to give the reader a breather and prepare them for what comes next. Balance is the key.
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 intentionally wrote them that way.
When you begin the editing process, pacing is another fundamental to add to your list of things to review.
Hope this helped.