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Pace — slowing down

July 8, 2010

When to slow the pace:

You slow the pacing after dramatic, fast-paced scenes to give the reader a chance to catch her breath. You also slow down the pace during love scenes or romantic moments where you want readers to linger. It’s also possible to have a slower-paced scene right before intense scenes. It provides a nice contrast that makes the following scene seem even more intense.

Techniques for slowing the pacing:

  • Make chapters longer
  • Use scenes that are longer and don’t necessarily end in cliffhangers
  • Write longer paragraphs
  • Use longer sentences
  • Make sure to include sensory descriptions, sensations, and setting details — what does the POV character see, hear, taste, smell, and feel?
  • Use introspection/character thoughts. Let your characters reflect on what happened.
  • Use verbs and words with soft sounds (e.g., soothe, soft, etc.)
  • Include a few adverbs and adjectives in your writing, but don’t overdo it.
  • Flashbacks slow down the forward movement of the plot and reduce pace. I’ll blog more about flashbacks in another post.

In the next post, I’ll use an example from a story I beta read to show how the writer revised a scene to achieve a more effective pace.

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