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  • Writer's pictureEmily Taylor

Plotting Along for the Ride: Pacing in Plot

Today's Card: Five of Wands (rev.) ~*~ April 5, 95th day of 2023 ~*~ Today's Color: Lavender


Pacing is a crucial aspect of storytelling that is often overlooked, yet it can make or break a story. When I first started writing, I was guilty of this myself. I was so focused on the characters and the plot that I completely disregarded the pace. I quickly learned that the pace of a story is just as important as the plot and characters. If you move too quickly, your readers don’t have enough time to comprehend the plot. If you move too slowly, your readers will get bored and put the story down.

As a reader, have you ever picked up a book that you were really excited about, only to find yourself putting it down after just a few pages because it was moving too slowly? Or have you ever found yourself flipping through the pages of a book, trying to keep up with the frenetic pace, only to feel like you missed important details? These are both examples of poor pacing, and they can be just as damaging to a story as poor plot or flat characters.

On the other hand, a well-paced story will hold the reader's attention and keep them engaged. The right balance of fast-paced and slow-paced scenes will create tension and release, keeping the reader invested in the story. A good pace will also ensure that important details are not overlooked, and the reader has a clear understanding of what is happening in the story.

As a writer, pacing can be one of the biggest challenges, especially when your characters seem to be stuck in one place. When this happens, it can be tempting to fill the pages with dialogue or internal monologue, but this can slow the pace of the story down, causing the reader to lose interest. In this situation, it is important to find a balance between advancing the story and developing the characters.

Be patient with your characters. Sometimes, the best way to move the story forward is to let the characters be still for a moment. This can give them time to reflect on their experiences and to grow as characters. When they are ready, they will naturally start to move forward again, and the pace of the story will pick up.

One of the best pieces of advice I received was to imagine the story as a movie, and think about the way the camera would move and the music that would play in each scene. This helped me to visualize the pace of my story and to understand how I could use pacing to create tension and release. I also started paying attention to the way that other writers used pacing in their stories, and I began to develop my own sense of what worked and what didn't.

When thinking about the pace of your story, it's essential to consider the genre and style of your writing. Different genres have different expectations for pace, and it's crucial to be aware of these expectations and to make sure your story fits within them.

For example, action and adventure stories are typically fast-paced, with a lot of movement and action. However, it's important to remember that even in these types of stories, there needs to be moments of pause, where the reader can catch their breath and reflect on what has happened. These moments of pause can be used to build tension and to provide a contrast to the action.

On the other hand, romance stories are often slower-paced, with more focus on character development and emotional connection. In these stories, it's important to give the characters the opportunity to move forward in their relationship, and to allow the romance to build and develop over time.

Regardless of the genre, it's important to remember that pace is not just about the speed of the story, but also about the rhythm and flow. A well-paced story will have a balance of fast-paced and slow-paced scenes, creating tension and release and keeping the reader invested.

As you can see, pacing is an essential element of a good plot. Finding the right balance can be challenging, but it is worth the effort. Pay attention to the feedback you receive from early readers and adjust your pacing accordingly. Use pacing to create tension and release, and to keep the reader invested in the story. Remember to think about the pace of your story from the very beginning, and to make sure that each scene serves a purpose and contributes to the overall pace of the story. With practice and patience, you will find that pacing becomes second nature, and your stories will be all the better for it.


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