A Word About Pacing

Have you ever read a story and thought the characters should just get on with it? That’s an indication that the author missed the pace of the story. Pacing is the speed at which a story moves along. It can be quite difficult to master, but mastering it can mean the difference between a story people can put down and one they can’t. You want to write one they can’t put down.

You need the right combination of speed-ups and slow-downs. I liken it to a roller coaster. Roller coaster riders feel an excited anticipation while moving up a hill. Then they scream as they plunge down the other side of the hill. This is precisely the combination of anticipation-exhilaration you want in a good story. You want your reader to anticipate the story climax, but you don’t want that climax to come too soon. So you set up the first hill, by giving the reader the main problem the characters have to solve. This is the first, the highest hill on the roller coaster track. The reader should climb that hill and start plunging. Then you add in a road block to the story resolution in some way. This is the second hill in the coaster’s track. The reader must climb up that one and plunge again. They once again will be stopped by yet another roadblock or problem and so on until you bring them to the final hill and the conclusion of the ride.

What I mean is that you need to have your characters encounter a problem or give them a desire they really want or need to obtain. Set them on the path to obtaining what they need or desire. If they get it too soon, or too easily, the story is over. So you need to put obstacles in their way. Does your character want or need a cutting from a plant to make a potion? Make it only grow somewhere inaccessible, say in a particular cave near the summit of a mountain. Force them to climb the mountain. Then throw rocks at them. Perhaps the plant is guarded by a yeti. Maybe the plant has a lookalike cousin that can ruin the potion. In short, don’t make things easy for your characters. This will provide your readers with a good read.

That said, you need to slow your character’s progress as much as you can so you add in some smaller problems they have to solve before you give them what they desire or need.

Make the road to the characters’ goal as full of twists and turns as you can. Turn them around and let them backtrack for a while before letting them know they are going the wrong direction. Then turn them around and do it all again. A roller coaster with one hill isn’t much of a thrill ride. Add as many hills as you can to make the ride more enjoyable. Your readers will thank you.

About

I am not one who is comfortable talking about myself but here goes. I enjoy writing, family history, and reading. I decided to do this blog because I wanted to try something new. I decided to make it a weekly blog because I wasn't sure that I could keep up with a daily one, and monthly seemed like I was writing a magazine. I think I did ok with my choices. You'll notice that there are not a lot of graphics on my site. That's because there are graphics plastered everywhere on the Internet and those sites sometimes take forever to load. This blog is a place where you can kick back, relax and be ready to be amused. At least I hope I willbamuse you. This blog is on a variety of subjects from my ficitional cat agency, the FFL, which is monthly, to instructional blogs to editorials, which are my opinions only. I admit that I don't know everything and could be wrong -- I frequently am. Now, stop reading about me and read what I have to say!

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Posted in General Opinion, Writing Techniques

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© Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den, 2010-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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