Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pace: To Speed Up or To Slow Down

    Have you ever hung around 11 year old boys or girls? If not, I would suggest that you make it a point to do so. Their minds are busy, always thinking of the next thing. If we want our fiction to engage them, we need to pay close attention to pace. 

   Pace is a way of building tension in your plot and characters and the rate at which the story unfolds. So if my audience is 10-12 year old readers, does that mean that the only pace I can have is fast? Not at all. It is important to know when and how to check to see if it's working. 

Reasons to Speed Up the Pace
1) Great way to develop scene structure. Introduce the stakes, show effort towards goal or through obstacles and end with a disaster or a twist.
2)Keeps the reader interested.
3)Adds style and freshness.
4) Ratchet up the suspense and create movement.
5) Helps build to the high point in a scene and to the climax.

How To Speed It Up
1) Punctuation: colons, semicolons, commas, ellipses, dash, etc.
2) Use one word sentence or only a few words. (Loses effect if used too often.)
3) Dialogue, short and quick.
4) One sentence paragraph.

Reasons to Slow Down the Pace
1) Character development using interior thoughts and emotions.
2)Open up the story.
3) Creates a place for imagery and symbolism.
4) Give your reader a chance to catch his breath after a fast moving scene.
5) Show the character working out a quandary, problem and then reaching a decision.

How to Slow It Down
1) Long sentences: compound, complex, compound-complex.
2) Longer paragraphs.
3) Longer chapters. 
4) Use narration to slow the pace.
5) Flashbacks 

When you have a great plot don't ruin it with issues of pace and timing. This is an important piece to include when you are in revision. Enlist the help of critique partners to point out areas where the pace is too fast or slow. 

Do you have suggestions on how to evaluate pace?


  1. These are some great tips and you make such a great point. If you're going to write for kids, you should pay attention to how their minds work and what keeps them interested.

  2. Wow this is wonderful. I love the techniques of how to speed up or slow down and the reasons for it. Thanks!

  3. What. A. Fantastic. Post. Seriously, this is so cool! Bookmarking, and I know I'll be back more than once to check it out again as I revise.


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