Pace is the speed in which events happen in your novel. You need to balance the pace of your writing. If your scenes drag on and on (slow pace) then you lose or bore readers. If it is too fast, you will leave your readers unsettled and it won’t be a comfortable read.
The trick is to get the balance just right. And there is no one out there that can tell you what that balance should be.
A lot of this will depend on your style as a writer. It can also be influenced by your genre and your readers’ preference. A young-adult audience might require a faster pace than other novels written for adults. A short story might quickly jump into the action while an epic tale might be told at leisurely pace, speeding up from time to time during the most intense events.
Ideally, your pace will vary throughout your novel. You will have fast-paced scenes followed by slower ones. This will allow the reader to have a break (and perhaps catch their breath) after your action-packed scenes.
Many new writers make the mistake of believing they need to have a very action filled plot to keep the readers’ attention from beginning to end but this is not the case. It is actually the varying of pace that will keep readers hooked to your story.
So what determines the pace?
Fast pace is all about action. When something is happening, the pace is brisk. Slow pace is more on character reflection of past experiences or wondering about the future. It can be scene descriptions or even the passing of time – sometimes months or even years pass in a single sentence.
To speed up pace:
- Have lots of action
- Less description
- Shorter sentences (and paragraphs)
- Dialogue is short and to the point
- Cut adverbs and adjectives to a minimum
- Use strong, active verbs
- Omit or limit character thought
To slow down the pace:
- Longer sentences
- More description
- Less action or slow action such walking or making tea
- Dialogue is more relaxed/conversational
Now your story can be paced very fast all the way through or even have a slow pace through most of the story but often it is best to use a mix of both forms. Using variety actually enhances your story and can keep the reader engaged.