Friday, April 11, 2014

Pacing of a Novel

Think back to the last movie you watched that you absolutely loved. What kept your eyes glued to the screen?  

What was the last movie you hated? Why? It was slow, nothing happened.  

A movie is similar to a novel. You begin to read that first chapter, then you close the book and put it down. Or you start reading a novel and cannot put it down. You flip through the pages at express speed. You need to find out what happens next.

So what is it about this novel that has you riveted? It isn't characterisation, or the plot or the action of a scene or the prose of the novel. It is pacing.

Pacing is often difficult to understand and harder to perfect. Pacing is a scene that advances the plot and makes the reader wanting to keep reading until the late hours of the morning. (we all read these types of novels)

Writing scenes that advance the plot makes the readers wanting more something which takes a lot of hard work and practice. Pacing is the speed in which your story moves, the amount of time you spend on each part of that story and question within every scene. We need to make our readers ask questions to have them keep turning that page.  

Every scene has its own pace. Some move faster, some slower. Both are important to give tempo. The pace should never be too fast, or too slow. It should be right for that scene. A fast-paced story doesn't include: Constant action, More chapters, Shorter scenes, Danger on every page, Non-stop dialogue, Shorter chapters or lots of POVs.

Fast paced stories are full of questions about the story and characters that the reader can't wait to find an answer. This doesn't mean you shouldn't have any action in your novel. Action is important in every story regardless of its genre.

 Action is the easiest way to increase pace in a story. However, too much action diminishes the reader’s emotional journey. But having action all the way through your story will leave your readers exhausted. If they reach this stage they will put the novel down.

Let a reader catch their breath by introducing a slower paced scene. One with story questions that will make them read on. You should try for some movement and dialogue on every page.

The easiest way to increase the pace of your novel is to:

Hype up the exciting parts. Generally the exciting scenes should be longer and detailed than a slower scene. Add a time frame or a deadline to the story to increase the urgency. Example: The character has to reach another character due to a bomb exploding, or a wedding that cannot take place as he/she is already married. Put your characters on the run. Add story questions to every scene.

Don't forget that every question answered in a scene, another question must be put in its place.

So what if you’re asking questions, giving answers, and your story doesn't seem quite right. It's slow. Here are some fail safe ways to pick up the pace and increase tension: Use shorter sentences. Use shorter paragraphs. More actions and reactions, Less internal monologues, Shorter dialogue.

If you want to slow the pace down you do the opposite:

 Longer sentences, Longer paragraphs, Less action and reaction, More internal monologue.
Longer dialogue.

Every chapter should end with a hook that makes the reader want to keep reading. Save that bigger hook or question for the end of chapters.

Readers read for the emotional experience. This comes from the tension and conflict the author creates.

It's always good for me to go through the 'how to' of writing a novel. It ensures I have done the above. Now I'm off to check the pacing in my current wip. Good Luck everyone. J

It's Friday again, so have a great weekend. Bye 4 now. J