Pace is the rhythm at which a scene or interlude moves. The pace should not be uniform. A mystery writer shouldn’t try to keep her stories at a constant high speed because readers will tire of the continuous excitement just as they would if nothing was happening. In addition, if too many clues and twists come too quickly, the fun of unlocking the mystery is taken away from the reader. On the other hand, too few clues too slowly results in the reader losing interest. Pacing suspense is important because a reader needs time to relax between action scenes.
Here’s how to improve pacing:
First, think in terms of scenes and interludes.
Scenes, which are about action, should read slowly as they build up to intense action. A suspenseful scene may last for several pages during which you fully describe all the action and emotion that culminates in the final fast-paced shocker.
Interludes are not so dramatic. They move slowly in the sense that nothing much is happening. But in a pacing sense, they should read quickly. For example, events of a week might be summarized in a single paragraph.
Second, keep those points where your main character finds clues close enough to maintain high reader interest, yet far enough apart that you can tell your story and have subplots in-between. Don’t allow the action to be too compressed or rushed.
Third, if you find your scenes end too quickly, add narrative passages such as the character’s interior dialogue or sensory descriptions—sights, sounds, smells. If your scenes move too slowly, add a few lines of dialogue or a condensed summary.
A novel should balance scenes and interludes that not only push the plot forward but keep it moving smoothly. Read more at Uphill Writing.
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