Pacing a story is very important. Too fast and you leave your audience with a sense of being unfulfilled. A feeling that they never truly got to know the characters , or the thought that they didn’t have enough of a chance to get fully immersed in the story. On the other hand if you go to slow you readers start questioning whether the story is ever going to get where it’s trying to go. Readers today have very short attention spans and if you take to long to say what you want, you risk people deciding to stop listening.

What pace should you set for your story? It depends. It depends on the medium (novel, play, movie, etc.), on the characters, the story, I could go on and on. No two stories are alike.It is up to you as a writer to find the right pacing for your creation.

Two of the best ways to control the pace of your story is sentence length and paragraph length. Long sentences tend to slow the pace. It is helpful for those quiet, introspective moments of your characters. It also gives your readers a chance to reflect on what they have learned so far or think about what might happen in the future. Short sentences speed up the pace. They help to keep the action moving along. Your reader is very focused on the immediate problem because that is all you are writing about. Paragraphs work the same way.

Another thing that can affect the pace of a story is word choice. Big, complex words can slow down your reader, especially if they may not know what it means.Using overly descriptive language, or too many adjectives, can also slow down the story.

Here are a few tips:

  • Pacing shouldn’t stay the same throughout the story.
  • Pacing, like suspense or tension, should build to faster scenes then go back to slow ones, only to build again. These “waves” usually correspond to the turning points in your story.
  • A slow pace should NOT equal no conflict. If there is no conflict whatsoever the story will not move forward.

What are your thoughts on pacing? Do you have any other tips?