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How to Control the Pace of your Story

Getting a reader to finish reading your book to the last page is a skill you should not take for granted, whether it’s in the fiction or nonfiction category. You may have picked a book to read and put it down as soon as you started reading. Perhaps you accompanied this action with a loud sigh and said, “How can someone write such a boring book?” If all this is familiar to you, then you’ve had first-hand experience with writers who have not grasped this skill well enough. Reading should be a fun, entertaining, and educative experience. There are many techniques a writer can use to achieve this, but I’ll specifically delve into pacing as a technique to make your writing interesting.

What is pacing?

Have you ever read a book and become overwhelmed with a feeling of anxiety and curiosity, to the point where you bite your nails in anticipation? That’s what pacing can do to a reader. Pacing refers to the speed at which action in a book takes place. It is therefore very important as a writer to ensure that your book has the right pacing, depending on your type of story.

How to control the pace of a story

The writer can control the pace of a story (by increasing or decreasing it) depending on his or her intentions, using various simple techniques. A fast pace is usually suitable for thrillers and generally action-themed stories, while romance stories are best told at a slower pace.

Include subplots in your story

A subplot is basically a subordinate plot that’s a supporting side story for the main plot. Introducing a subplot to your story will slow down the pace of the story. You can include more than one subplot in your story, as long as this does not confuse the reader. The more subplots you include, the slower the pace of the story. You can increase the pace of your story by limiting the number of subplots you include.

Add introspection to your story

Introspection is basically self-analysis. As a writer, you can show the reader what your characters are thinking and feeling rather than plainly narrating their actions. This will spice up the story and also slow down its pace. Introspection, when used properly, not only slows down the pace of the story but also builds the reader’s background knowledge about a character, a very useful technique.

Use dialogue in your story

Dialogues can considerably increase or decrease the pace of your story. Instead of submerging the reader in descriptions about the cause of certain actions or descriptions about a character’s traits, you can create fascinating conversations where characters confront each other and consequently expose their traits. You can also use dialogue to allude to the reasons behind past and future actions in your story. On the contrary, you can slow down the pace of your story by including idle conversations in the story.

Use cliff-hangers in your story

A cliff-hanger is a writing device that entails ending a scene or chapter in suspense, often leaving the reader no choice but to yearn for more. Cliff-hangers can considerably increase the pace of your story.

All of these techniques can only contribute to the success of your story if they are not overdone. For instance, using too many subplots, dialogues, and too much introspection will make the story less appealing.

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Keith Mbuya