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Saturday, 2 August 2014

Pacing your Book

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about pacing myself physically when writing. Since then I have been thinking a lot about pacing in books themselves. Poor pacing can mar an otherwise good story and I've read a few books recently where this has happened.

Also, eighty thousand words into my adult, romantic novel, I have become stuck. The ending is clear and not that far away; there are a variety of paths leading to the conclusion but I'm not quite sure of the right one. I'm also not sure whether the pacing is right. When writing shorter books for children it is much easier to judge the pacing but at eighty thousand words it feels much harder.

With one doubt comes another and another. This is where an editor or an agent are worth their weight in gold. But I have neither for this book, so for now I am relying on my own judgement and that could be skewed!

These are some of the questions I have asked myself.

Is there enough tension?

Is the plot being driven forwards in a fast enough manner?

Are my characters themselves acting in a way which drives the story forwards?

Is my heroine someone readers will love, someone who will compel them to turn the page in order to find out whether she attains her heart's desire?

Is my hero the sort to make readers swoon?! 

Does the network of relationships, the ups and downs, slow the pace of the story in some places?

And does this matter if it is only a transitory thing?

Pacing is about rhythm. Too much tension and the reader will tire before the denouement. Too little and they will switch off.

Robert McKee's Classic Five Part Narrative Theory is as follows:-

Inciting incident.

Progressive complications.




Pace needs power but I am aware that it also needs pauses. It is finding the balance between the two which is so  hard to get right.

So how am I attempting to answer my doubts?

Well, eventually I will hopefully pass the book to one or two trusted writer friends and rely on them to be truthful. Before that I have begun to edit. Many writing blogs say not to edit until you have finished the story, but by returning to the beginning, deleting some passages and adding in others, I am hopeful that all will become clear. I am hopeful that, when I reach the part where I became stuck first time around, the choice of which path to follow will have been made for me. I am hopeful that by re-working from the beginning and trusting my instincts, I will be able to better judge how well the pace is working.

There are a lot of 'hopes' there but to a large extent that is what writing is. You pluck an initial idea from the ether, trust your instincts and hope that you can make something of it.

I hope that whatever you are doing this week you don't get stuck and if you do, that you find a speedy solution! Thank-you for reading.


  1. I don't know about the pacing in this novel, but I sure as hell can't wait to read it!

  2. I'm getting there! The temptation is to rush and get it finished but I am reining myself in! Thanks for your enthusiasm though.