Pacing is one of those aspects of novel-writing that often gets overlooked but that is critically important to the success of your story. What is pacing? Basically, pacing is the speed or momentum at which your story moves forward.
A key ingredient of proper pacing is balance. As fiction writers, we must create the proper balance between moments of heightened tension in our story and moments when we provide our readers with places to take a needed break from sustained tension. Too much tension will exhaust our readers emotionally, and too little tension will bore them.
Each of us has a natural pacing style. Some authors write fast-paced stories; others write stories that have a slower pace. Consider authors of thrillers vs. authors of sweet romances. The pacing is different for each type of story. But in each type of story, we can vary the pacing to keep the story moving forward. Again, the key is balance.
Two techniques that will help you balance your pacing are action passages and story breaks. Action passages are those parts of your story that raise the tension. They include scenes where a lot is happening very fast, leaving your character little or no time to ponder her situation. Story breaks are those parts of your story where you slow down a bit. Story breaks include descriptive passages or internal monologue.
What techniques to you use for pacing your story? We’d love to hear from you.