When I write (fanfics or og stories) I have trouble pacing. Mostly, I feel like my stories going by too quickly and I should slow it down. But, idk how. If anyone has any tips or tricks plz tell me. Or, if you personally struggle with pacing too, feel free to share your pain!
Pacing is the bane of my existence! I think the best way to fix it is really in revisions. My first drafts are always paced too quickly. It’s not until I get some distance from the initial draft that I can go back in and layer more of what’s needed to get it right. I often find that I haven’t spent enough time showing the character’s emotions and thoughts in response to what’s happening in the scene.
Thank you so much for the advice. I’ll be sure to try my hand at it
Pacing is something I’m still learning (and constantly struggle with), but I have learned a few tricks over time.
- Expand your scenes.
The one thing that can make your story go by too quick is the fact that you shorten your scenes. I’ve often seen stories where the first chapter is a few paragraphs long where the character goes to school and comes home. The writer never expands the scene of how they get to the school, what happens there, and what happens when they come home.
Expanding your scenes will make your story run on a little longer. However, this shouldn’t be confused with adding in filler scenes which is where you add dialogue pieces and random stuff just to keep the story going. Each scene should be relevant to the book and therefore, keep the plot moving forward.
- Add conflict.
Adding conflict will not only help lengthen your story but also keep it from ending too quickly. You can treat each chapter as a mini-plot: there’s an exposition, climax, and resolution, and during such, there will be conflict.
Conflict doesn’t have to be about two people fighting. But it should be something (whether it’s an object, a person, nature, animal, or whatever) that will keep the character from getting to their goal.
So for example, if your character is looking for evidence on a murder, they shouldn’t get that evidence too easily. They can’t just walk into the room where the murder happened and look for clues by themselves and get everything they need to piece the puzzle together. Instead, you have to make it hard for them to get what they need and want. So, you can add obstacles—whatever that may be—so your character doesn’t get to their goal. In fact, you can have them not get what they need and have to track it down elsewhere. The point of the story is to see them struggle, and if they’re not struggling that bad, then your story will end too soon.
- Add subplots.
Another thing you can do to keep your story from ending too quickly is to add subplots. Subplots are like mini-plots, but take place throughout the story. They can finish their plot during the story or when the story ends as well.
A subplot can be a part of any other genre as well (which is where the term “sub-genre” comes in). But it doesn’t have to be. To give an example, Twilight is a romance story with a sub-genre of fantasy. If you take away the vampire and werewolf plot-line, you get a contemporary story about two people who fall in love and an old, jealous best friend who wants in on the action. But there’d be no story without the fantasy part because Edward being a vampire is part of the conflict: he doesn’t age, Bella does, and Bella wants to be what he is but he doesn’t want that kind of life for her. And then, there’s how there’s bad vampires out there, and vampires who rule over all vampires that want to kill them for many other reasons.
Having a subplot will focus the story on other things while the story is continuing (and progressing) but you’ll also see many other conflicts and problems along the way which will help your story not end too quickly.
- Heighten the details if you want to slow it down.
One reason why people tend to make quick scenes is because they don’t actually slow it down with details. Thoughts, emotions, scenery, actions, and reactions—these will help your character focus in on the life around them. If your character is going away on a trip to the mountains for the first time, you’d want them to experience the area. So instead of saying, “Sarah stepped out of the car, took a good look around with a smile, and walked into the cabin…” you can say: “When Sarah stepped out of the car, her feet immediately froze. Perhaps she shouldn’t have worn sneakers during winter? She closed the door behind her and took a deep breath as the smell of nature rose into her nostrils…”
Slow paced scenes should be where you slow it all down and focus on the details. Faster paced scenes is where you speed it up with less details.
- Cut it out and cut it down.
Sometimes, pacing isn’t always about what you add to the story, but how you write it through the technical side of writing. Look for places where there’s long sentences and long paragraphs (like five or more sentences) in places where you think you’d skim past, and make the sentences and paragraphs shorter.
Also, if you have sections where you give a lot of information on something (such as what something looks like), you can cut it down and sprinkle that information throughout the chapter or other chapters where that information is more prominent. This way you don’t slow it down too much while trying to describe the world your characters are in.
I had someone comment on the one of my first chapters that my pacing was too fast, yet they didn’t understand that it was intentional. I designed the first chapters to be fast paced because I wanted to sweep the reader away and slow it down later.
Introspection and character development are effective tools at controlling pacing. They can be used to slow things down and give readers a chance to breathe. They’re best placed after major plot points to give readers a chance to digest what happened through the characters.
However, if your pacing issues are more superficial, then description and detail are the areas you want to focus on. Adding these two elements will slow down a fast paced scene or chapter that you feel moves to quickly. You can also throw in some internal dialogue and character reactions/emotion to help with this.
This is also a very useful tool. All the best stories weave subplots throughout the story to keep readers engaged and on their toes. It allows the writer to show how characters react to multiple situations and not just what’s going on in the story. Subplots can also strengthen the overall plot as they add and take away characters and tools that characters could use to overcome the main issue. They can also build or release tension where needed and really bring the story to life. I currently have at least three subplots going on in my WIP between characters that influence the main story.
Ugghhh, me too. I honestly feel like I struggle more with inconsistent pacing in my current wip. Like, I want it to be a slow paced teen comedy in some places, but it’s also suppossed to be this hige action packed fantasy series with a complex world and politics and super technical fighting. So the exhillarating high-fantasy action is at war with the slow paced teen-fic, and there are some chapters where dialogue is super sparse, then some that are super dialogue heavy!
I wish I could like this post more.
Same problem… I have come to the conclusion that with Fan fic its just a thing…Its also hard to not info dump to catch up readers on the fan fic worlds and characters… a prolouge can be helpful… as far as pacing, there is a lot of real time dialog that goes on… I am trying to intermittantly give relatable environmental descripters such as the weather, the characters in a certain place events happening out side of the mc’s… I still have the problem of pacing all the same… it just is less obvious when I break it up a bit…idk otherwise… so I m curious to hear what suggestions will be posted…
Do you outline your story?
I control my pacing by making a table with the important main and plot scenes in one sentence across a timeline. When does what happen?
In this way I can easily see when I’m trying to squeeze too much in one chapter.
There are lots of online sources that can help you outline. Jenna Morecci has some good videos on youtube about this topic
You definitely don’t want to add filler scenes. Maybe you should time table it out? Give your characters a rest period so everything’s not happening bam, bam, bam, you know? Not everything should be climactic.
I don’t know… There are some good tricks in the forum already. Throw in some setting, some extra dialogue and thought. Extend a scene after the enticing event happens. I used to have this all the time, everyone complained my chapters ended too soon, we never saw the wind down. Give us the wind down.
I have found something revolutionary for my pacing. I’m a rusher. And I read the most amazing tracking method.
When going through a chapter. i write down the questions that arise, the answer, and when answered.
I found I had ten questions in just chapter one. So I cut some parts out and moved it around. Mostly the question of is too much or too little happening, and fixing potholes.
Picture yourself as the reader when you edit your work.
That’s so helpful thanks! But, I have a few questions about your first point/example. What if that school day was really boring and irrelevant to the story? Should I still expand or should I just have a transition?
I agree that the first chapters can be a little fast paced to get the reader engaged. But, sometimes when I write introspection, it somehow ruins the flow of the story. (Maybe that’s just me lolz.) I’ll definitely try out all ur techniques tho.
IKR! It’s super annoying. Like how much dialogue is to much dialogue?
im currently writing a fanfic and honestly ive just been adding flashbacks and dream sequences to inform the readers at what point in the story we’re in. But, i try to not do it to much. it’s such a delicate balance lolz
thx for the advice. I outlined the story and it helped quite a lot.
Is a filler okay after like a super climactic fight? To let the characters rest and what not.
ive never heard of that one before! Im also a rusher so this should help me a lot
No problem. c:
And if nothing happens during specific scenes (whether it’s at the school or not), then you should transition it. The point to each scene is to make them relevant to the story and move the plot forward.