The Writing Life
is a tool
writers have to control the speed in which a
story reads. Lush,
descriptive segments slow the pace, giving the
readers a breather.
Rapid-fire dialogue speeds the pace, leaving
the reader breathless. It
is up to the writer to decide when to quicken
the pace and when to put
it in a slower gear.
way to judge when to change the pace is to ask
questions as you read.
Does your mind start drifting? Then, you need
action. Is the
conversation or action moving too quickly? Are
you having a hard time
keeping up? Then it's time to use a bit of
narrative or exposition to
even out the pacing.
In the tip
Once, Say it Right, we discussed
removing redundancies in our
prose. One of the reasons we add redundancy in
the first place is to
slow the pace. But instead of repeating
ourselves, we need to find new
things to say or new things to focus on. For
example, during a highly
emotional scene that is moving too quickly,
allow the character to
study a picture on the wall or watch children
playing nearby. Or allow
him to remember a conversation from the past.
Or focus on one of the
other senses, such as the smells or sounds in
the background. This can
add depth and an emotional layer, as well as
slowing the pace.
We can also
pace of a chapter or even the entire
manuscript by adding more
description, more exposition (background
information) and more internal
dialogue (character thoughts).
pace, omit everything except for the direct
action or dialogue. Ignore
descriptions, ignore reactions, ignore
anything other than the bare
necessities. Shortening the length of the
sentences will also increase
aloud is perhaps the best way to judge the
pace. Listen as you read,
and consider if the action is happening too
fast or not fast enough.
And remember, there is never one right answer.
The pace of your story
is just one more element that contributes to
your unique writing style.
Experiment, study, write. But in the end, use
your own judgment.
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