An AI generated image of a large clock lying inside of a fat book
Tic tac goes the clock. Midjourney.

Mastering Pacing: The Heartbeat of Your Story

Don’t rush, don’t bore — here’s how to get it right

Scollurio
4 min readSep 15, 2023

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Pacing is the rhythm of your tale. It’s the heartbeat that keeps readers glued to every word. Ever felt a story drag or race too fast? That’s pacing at play. I’ve been investigating to find useful tips for myself and I found some really useful advice I just keep forgetting about when I’m writing my novel. I’ve tried to condense it all down as best as I could to not waste anyone’s time and make it easier to remember.

Pacing — let’s unlock its secrets.

The Power of the Pause

Ever noticed the silence between musical notes? That’s where the magic lies. In writing, it’s not just about the action but the pauses between them. Use breaks to let moments sink in. Let your readers breathe. Well placed pauses will enhance the gravitas of certain events, reactions and situations.

Fast vs. Slow: It’s All About Balance

Life has its fast and slow moments. So should your story. Intense action scenes? Speed up. Emotional moments? Slow down. It’s a dance, and you’re the choreographer. Also you can create immediacy by ramping up the odds against your protagonist. Let’s have the bad guys swarm in on him, his smartphone is listening in on him, he is being tracked via satellite and that bomb chained to his ankle won’t disarm itself… you get my drift.

Chapter Lengths: The Unsung Heroes

Short chapters? They speed things up. Long chapters? They create depth. Play with chapter lengths to control pacing. Remember, it’s a tool in your writer’s toolkit like everything else. You can shape the ebb and flow of the pacing of your story, combine different techniques with chapter lengths for the best effect!

Dialogue: The Speed Booster

Rapid-fire dialogue can accelerate pacing. Think of an intense argument or a quick exchange. But, a monologue? It can slow things down, adding weight to the narrative. Often we forget about the importance of dialogue. Also, don’t let your characters be talking mannequins sitting still or standing in a place while conversing. Real people move or do other things…

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Scollurio

Hailing from Austria, a self-employed graphics designer and writer since 2009. Loves long walks in the forest, rain, thoughtful solitude and silly raccoons.