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8 Techniques to Slow Down the Pace of your Story
A fast pace and a slow pace is how a story goes. There are moments when a story should be fast-paced; there is also the need for lagging scenes that emphasize emotional impact. You can also slowly narrate events to maximize the payoff. Readers don’t need intensity from start to finish without the punctuation of emotion and introspection. You should give them those punctuating moments, and here are the right tools for the job.
1. FLASHBACKS. Flashbacks stop the narration of a current event in full effect and drag readers back to past occurrences. And thus, they are risky, especially because of their ability to slow things down too much. So, try to keep a flashback as quick as possible; they should not go on for pages without joining back to the current events in the story. Flashbacks should be used deliberately and judiciously to add insight and create a pause.
2. SETBACKS AND MISTAKES. Setbacks and dead ends are incredible tools for slowing down a plot, and they are necessary. The hero should make mistakes, hit rock bottoms and experience reversals. If his story is just success upon success, readers get bored even though your story is fast-paced as a result.
3. DESCRIPTION. A description is a perfect tool to help readers slow down and admire the story world. It fits in scenes where a character moves through a place, either driving or taking a walk. It is also cool for when a character is outdoors, say in a park, waiting to meet someone or during a stakeout. Try not to overdo descriptions and find just the right amount needed for your story.
4. INTROSPECTION. The musings of a point of view character help slow a scene. Try to seamlessly include these thoughts as though they are the character's dialogue that reflects his mood. Slide the muse in without referring to the character. There is no need to announce his presence, as readers already know whose thought it is.
5. DISTRACTIONS. In the middle of an important scene or an emotionally charged moment, you can distract readers a little by getting the characters involved in a small task not crucial to the moment. In the middle of a heated argument, a character might look out the window or fumble with a pen. Distractions create an opportunity to engage readers’ emotions and slow down a tense scene.
6. EXPOSITION. A good break from action and suspense can come as an exposition that offers information. This could be a character description, time references, geographical and biographical information. This information provides context and slows down the pace of your narration, but they should be narrowed down to the essentials and stylishly embedded.
7. WORD CHOICE AND SENTENCE STRUCTURE. You can use soft-sounding words (soothe, simper, stroke) and lengthy paragraphs to slacken the speed on a word-by-word and sentence-by-sentence basis. The technique should be used to slow the pace and should not be the product of an editing error.
8. SEQUELS. This is the scene where characters assess the changing situation, process their feelings and reach a conclusion on what to do next. This is a slower moment that follows a crucial action scene, but not every action scene requires it. Use sequels to provide depth by putting them in a few crucial points in your story.
Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Frank Stephen