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Pacing... and why it can make or break your story

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Welcome to Week P of Authors Tips' A to Z of Writing. 

If this is the first time you are visiting this Series, here's a quick recap.

Authors share their tips on writing fiction and each week we talk about various aspects of writing. This week, it's time to take a closer look at Pacing.

It's often easy to mistake 'pacing' with the genre of your story or its characters. One would assume that a thriller where the protagonist is racing against time to save the world needs to be fast-paced whereas a story that deals with the easy going life of a gentle old lady who lives a quiet life in the hills would obviously be more slower paced. Fact is, that the ebb and flow of a story has little to do with the genre or characters and more to do with the pace of the narrative or its momentum.

Sure, a thriller will need to have a more 'hurried' pace than one in which an old lady is reminiscing about her life. But even in a thriller you need to give the reader some pause for reflection. To vary the pace so that she is not overwhelmed by all the frenetic action. Similarly, in the second type of story, you will need appropriate action placed at the right moments so that the reader doesn't abandon your book altogether!

Much like the tides, a good story ebbs and flows. So what determines pacing? The combination of description and dialogues and how you mix it up is critical to pacing. Here are some points to keep in mind.

Quicken the pace by having shorter descriptive paragraphs. Punchy dialogue with a few lines of description is great for writing scenes with tension or action.

Slow down the pace by providing description of the surroundings or even some elements of backstory or getting into the head of the character. You need a combination of both because in life and in fiction there is tension followed by calm. 

Backstory should always be given in small chunks or else it will look like information dump. Worse, it will stop your plot from moving forward. 

Balance is critical to your story. Make sure that your chapters have the right mix of fast and slow paced scenes. That will ensure that your readers stay engaged with your story.

Happy Writing and do share your thoughts about Pacing in the comment box below.

Don't forget to check out the other P posts in the series.

P for Prologue by Devika Fernando

P for Process, Productivity, Plotting by Saiswaroopa Iyer

P for Procrastination by Preethi Venugopala 

P for Proof-reading by Sudesna Ghosh 

P for Point of View by Reet Singh








Comments

  1. Great tips - thanks for this. I am inspired to get back to my WIP. Must 'pace' myself so that I write a bit everyday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Go for it, Reet! As writers we need to pace ourselves too! :D

      Delete

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