One Writer’s Journey

September 4, 2013

Pacing: 3 Tips to Keep Moving at Just the Right Speed

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:07 am
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PacingSometimes our stories seem to drag.  Why isn’t it going anywhere?   Other times they zip along, out of control and moving much too fast.  Here are three ways to keep your story moving at just the right pace.

  1. Compression.  When things seem to go on for much too long, the problem may be that you need to compress this part of the story.   We don’t need to know which shoe your character put on first or what brand of tooth paste she uses.  Really.  Just zip right past it.  We’re good.  And the bus that your character takes to get to her job?  I don’t care what it’s called.  Knowing that she takes the bus to work is probably all I need.  Unless these ho hum bit of life actually play a vital part in the story, you can fly right over them, and you should.
  2. Change Drivers.  Other times there are plenty of things going on and the story still seems to drag.  How can we be fighting off bad guys, making a great escape or struggling to survive and still have things seem to drag?  Check to see if your main character is playing an active role.  If someone else is in the driver’s seat and your main character is just along for the ride, the story is going to lose drive.  Get your main character involved.
  3. Focus.  The above two tips might lead you to believe that your story should always fly along but that isn’t the case.  When the stakes are big or something super important is happening, it can’t be over in a flash.  This is important.  Make it feel important by slowing things down to show the impact of various vital actions.  This might mean focusing on minute details, letting us briefly in on your character’s thoughts, or simply focusing on things step-by-step in a way that you don’t when they are unimportant (like brushing their teeth).  Focus on it and we will know it matters.

You don’t have to worry about getting your pacing perfect in draft #1, but as you rewrite, these are the things that you need to keep in mind.

–SueBE

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