Pacing is something I also struggle with, too. In fact, many people struggle with it. But this can be overcome in various ways depending on why the pacing is so difficult to deal with.
- Look for large paragraphs.
Find those giant paragraphs that take up five or more sentences to have and cut it down. Large paragraphs tend to make readers skim because a lot of readers (and the majority of them have short-attention spans) aren’t interested in the details of anything (in other words, they care more about the dialogue), but when they see a massive paragraph that could easily be cut down into two or more paragraphs, it’ll be an instant turn-off.
Cutting giant paragraphs can also help your pacing because it won’t seem like you have a giant piece of information and then action after.
Another thing I’ve learned is to look for those scenes where you go through lots of different details on your scenery or whatnot. Instead of having a lot of paragraphs that detail what something looks like or is like—which causes your pacing to slow down—you want to detail these things as your character goes through the story. So, for example, you wouldn’t want to describe every single thing that’s in your character’s room. You would only describe what little they have on their personality like a wall full of canvases of art, an unmade bed, a desk with a lot of crumbled papers on the floor because the small trashcan is filled. These things will tell your reader that your character is an artist who is also messy. But you also would say these things as your character explains it at the current time. For example, they get out of bed and don’t make it. They pass their paper-mess that’s on the floor and tell themselves they’ll clean it up later. They stare at the paintings on the wall before they leave the room and they may have mixed feelings on them. Simple actions.
All right, this is the best advice for any under-writer who have struggles with fast pacing. Now, to be clear, you don’t always want to use this advice because there will be times where you need to tell. But most often than not, you will need to show during those scenes that need more time for development.
What I mean is that you should be showing at least 70-80% of the time—always during those scenes where your character will experience something. And you should be telling at least 30-40% of the time—always during those scenes where your character doesn’t have time to experience what just happened. The difference between these is by looking through those specific scenes: if your character is going on a date with their crush, then you need to show. If your character is having an all out fight with their best friend, then you may need to tell.
It also differs based on the details you use. When it comes to telling, you’re just telling it how it is. “Sarah’s cold.” “Matt is angry.” “Barry is sad.” These are the basic forms of telling, but you can also tell with other major scenes such as saying, “Harry, the Gryffindor student, is my best friend.”
When it comes to showing, you’re using context clues to give your readers that experience. “Sarah shivers when a gust of icy wind nips at her skin as she forces her fists into her hoodie pocket.” “Matt pounds his fist against the table as saliva oozes from his gritted teeth. His eyebrows knit together and pale face reddens.” “Barry rocks his body back and forth as tears stream down his face.” Or for the other one:
Harry approaches me, in his usual red and golden Quidditch uniform. I slap him across the shoulder in a playful way. “Hope you win this time. Can’t afford to see ya lose again.” He shakes his head at this and laughs.