Pacing Struggles

When I write, one paragraph would take me a few minutes of thought to write. What I often didn’t take into consideration is that readers could skim it over in less than ten seconds. Then what I have is a scene I thought that lasts long enough, but it turns into fast-paced dumping when I read it.

Does anyone else struggle with this, and discovered ways to overcome it? Do you have examples of great pacing and bad ones, and have advice on what counts as good pacing? Please spill them here, thank you!

To me it is about milking the high impact scenes, staying with them longer, adding layers of emotional and sensual information there, while stepping over the necessary but mundane connectors. In that respect, the readers’ feedback is invaluable. They can tell you they want MORE here, and LESS there. I always ask for this specific feedback.

I had a scene in my first novel where a character shoots someone from a sentient pistol for the first time, and I think I rewrote it at least five times until it was ‘full’ and I could not think of anything else to add. On another hand, I recently had to cut out a scene of my main training an alien to lift weights I loved to bits because people told me it in unnecessarily slowed down the chapter.

So, your first check is yourself, as you draft and redraft, and discipline yourself to write slower.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to write slower. There is so much emphasis on NaNo and similar things, but the thing is, they are meant for multiple drafts. And internet posters often do not do multiple drafts, instead they do quick look-overs. At the very least, one needs to read what they had written themselves, attentively. If the writer wants to skim, chances are so will the reader.

Your second check is your feedback partners.

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What genre is it? Some people have the tendency to throw the info dump card without considering the context.

There’s also different ways to pace things for different scenes and genres. Usually sentence length, structure, and word choice can achieve the pacing you want. Paragraph length can also add to this.

Nope

But I have noticed this is a general problem here.

The way I write, even if something does seem fast paced, it really isn’t.

I write in fragments.

Meaning as the story progresses, those fragments comes together for a much larger picture.

I’ve had a fragment in book one that was finally completely clarified in book 3.

The trick is, try and plan out your chapter’s. It doesn’t have to be completely planned, but enough for you to have a vision in mind.

Calm yourself when writing, try and throw out those emotions.

Try and write as if you’re a judge.

Meaning, take your time and assess the information at hand. Then using that information, create pathways that can lead to your ending.

To effectively write a story, try and have the ending planned out. This will be where your entire story revolves around. Afterwards, work your way back. Once you know the ending, it becomes much easier to pace yourself.

A common problem I have noticed here on Wattpad, is that many do not plan their stories effectively, as a result they suffer from many things.

The most important is pacing.

A story that isn’t well paced shows a lack of effort.

In short, try and make sure you have a clear vision in mind.

This will help to avoid pacing struggles.

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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.

  • Cut your detail scenes.

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.

  • Show, don’t tell.

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.

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I don’t see the problem here?

Could you clarify a bit more–as what is a pacing struggle to you?

I had this problem and I overcame it by listening to audiobooks. They are sometimes helpful. The narration actually makes you realize if the pacing is good and flowing smoothly or it is really bad and unnecessary info dump

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Not sure how helpful I can be, but I empathise. Fwiw, this got better for me naturally, over time. A few years ago, I haaaated how rushed my writing felt. These days I feel like I have more control over it. I think I’m now happier to spend more time going back over a scene, steadily adding things to paragraphs until they take long enough, or committing to that extra scene that needs to go in between two chapters for pacing purposes, etc. So I’ve generally slowed down and have stopped worrying about ruining the rhythm of what’s on the page, because it turns out it can be replaced with something that works just as well.

oo do you have any to recommend?

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My audio book record isn’t so big as they are too long but they are fun to listen when you are doing chores.

The first audiobook I listened to was The Godfather, the narration was good and dialogues were spoken by the actual actors who played the characters. But it has so much telling and borig subplots that you have to be patient to get back to main story.

You can start with audiobooks for classics as they are mostly in public domain and are narrated by expert narrators. Like all the Jane Austen books have good narration and I listened to Frankstein.

When I listened to Crime & Punishment, I realized it was too long and slow that even if it is a good book the modern reader will get bored. You don’t want such slow pacing in books these days.

Pacing for writing is subjective. Depending on what kind of book your writing and what story your trying to tell. I’ve read books with short chopped sentences and it worked and some that have the kind of long winded paragraphs and that worked well too.

Maybe try not to rush the scene or the situation, you have a whole book to get through whatever is happening. Try to imagine the scene in three different parts, the introduction of it, the body of it and the conclusion or the continuity of how it will feed what will happen next.

If you give too much detail, in a fast paced way you won’t have 1) that long of a book because you’re burning through plot lines fairly quickly 2) that interesting of a book.

That’s the method I learned to use. My first book, I flew through those plot lines and kept coming up with more and the book began as one thing and ended as another and in between I kind of got lost so left a lot of things just hanging.