Ten Tenets of Novel Writing: Pace

A series looking at the ten different principles that going into writing a good book. This essay discusses pace.

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Follows: Dialogue

There are a lot of different things that go into making a good novel and a lot of places where people can make mistakes. In this series I’m going to be looking at these different parts. This essay is going to be looking at my seventh tenet: pace.

The pace of a novel is quite a complicated part to get right because there are a lot of nuances to it. You can talk about the overall pace of a novel and how quickly the plot as a whole moves forward, but you also need to consider the pace of the individual scenes as well. Pacing the writing differently can do a lot to change the way the reader feels when reading it. Interview with a Vampire is paced quite slowly so it feels more like an exploration; Hunger Games has quite a fast pace so it feels more suspenseful, which forces you to carry on reading. This is something that The Shining utilises as well, but it starts off quite slowly to set the scene and then hit the reader with the horror and the suspense of the fast pace writing.

The beauty of a novel’s pacing is that there is no right or wrong answer to it. Personally, I’m not a fan of slow-paced writing but that’s because I’m an impatient person. You can pace the overall novel and individual scenes in any way that you want, as long as you know the effect that it’ll have on the reader and that there is a balance between fast and slow paced. Too much of either is a turn off for the reader. And it does have a significant impact on the reader. Take a look at American Gods or Murder on the Orient Express and change the pace of a scene to see what a seemingly small thing like that can do to the feel of it.

Next: Structure.

David Chitty was born and raised in Thanet in the 90s. He devotes most of his energies to writing fantasy fiction novels.

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