Thursday, October 21, 2010

How Do You Handle Pacing?

I am spending a lot of time these days editing INSOMNIA. As a YA horror/suspense/dark paranormal/mocha shake, the pacing is crucial.

I thought I'd take a few minutes this week and write a couple of posts about pacing. Today, our topic is:

Dear Pacing,

Why do you matter?

Much Love, Jenn

Pacing replied with the following.

Dear Jenn,

How rude!

Regards, Pacing

Obviously, I'm going about this the wrong way. Pacing is the speed of a book. It is the rate at which the story flows and it includes things like level of tension, risk to characters, and length of chapters. For me, it ranks up at the same level as character development in importance.

Not everyone feels the same, but even though different genres will need different pacing, it's still important, whether you right hard sci-fi or chick lit.

Different books require different pacing. A romantic comedy is going to take faster pacing than an epic fantasy and slower than a thriller.

In a thriller, or suspense, you want to drag the reader (at times kicking and screaming) through the book. There are several ways to accomplish this, (some I seriously consider to be cheating) which I'm going to post about on Friday.

What kind of pacing do you strive for and why do you think it's a good fit for your genre?


  1. I agree that pacing is right up there with character and plot development. It's so subjective though. I've had people say my book is too slow and some say it's too fast. What to do? I'll check back on Friday.

  2. The pacing changes from novel to novel, depending on the type of genre it is. I do tend to prefer a faster pace, and try tpo make good use of hook chapter ending to keep things rolling. :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  3. I try to keep my pace quick, to keep my reader interested. My crit buddies let me know if it's too fast (which it is in some places). =)

  4. How dare you drag me kicking and screaming through your book you evil, author, you. :) Pacing is soooo important. It can make someone keep reading or put your book down for a month. (And for the record, pacing doesn't write very good letters. It really should've explained itself better.)

  5. I try not to worry about pacing during the first draft. Various scenes are going to need to flow at different paces, and when I'm drafting, I'm usually to close to the project to see where I need to slow down or speed up.

    When I'm done drafting, I set it aside for a few weeks, and when I come back to it, it's much easier to see where the pace needs to be slowed or quickened.

    To pick up the pace, I eliminate any unnecessary dialogue, shorten sentences, use active verbs.

    To slow things down, I focus on what the mc is feeling, let the reader dwell on that for a while, or I use more prosaic, and often slightly longer sentences.

    Making sure the mood fits the pacing is also important, so be sure to use things like setting and style to help achieve the desired mood.

    Good post!

  6. You are so funny! :) I do think pacing depends on the book. I didn't know you wrote thriller's! Awesome!! You definitely have to have faster pacing in that kind of book! :)

  7. I agree that pacing is so important! It's something I'm still learning. In my current wip, my pacing is somewhat quick, but not thriller-quick. It's a hard balance to strike, and depends on what I'm writing.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  8. A YA horror/suspense/dark paranormal/mocha shake, sounds like fun!

    I like to balance the pacing of novels througout but make sure I keep ratcheting it up slowly to the climax. I make notes in the margins while editing to make sure I'm on track!

  9. Pacing is a demon I've been fighting for a while now. I write fantasy--adult audience, slower paced fantasy. It feels like the rest of the world writes YA thriller (which is an AWESOME, wonderful thing, btw!) But learning that I had to slow down was hard for me. I'm still learning.

    *hugs* Best of luck, sis-in-darkness!

  10. That's a toughy. I think it all depends on your experience with writing. The more you practice, the better you get. Many times it takes some serious revising to get it right. For the rest of us, it just comes naturally. he he

  11. Dear Jenn,
    Your book is hardcore!
    Currently Kicking and Screaming