Story Pacing Affects Plot Development

            How fast a story unfolds is controlled by pacing. It is what determines the appeal of a story to its varied audience. For example, some readers want lots of events taking place right at the beginning, and to continue throughout the story. Other readers like the intrigue when obstacles and reactions take place over time. Because pacing affects atmosphere and tone, there are times when a period of concentrated action is needed to provide the conflict and tension that makes a story interesting.

            An adventure novel should revolve around a series of action-packed events while a psychological thriller should be gripping as clues arise as characters react to what’s happening.

            How do you control pacing? The length of a given scene is one way. A long scene will slow down how often something important occurs, while a short scene that includes dialogue and action speeds things up. The period of time that elapses within a scene also impacts pace. If the story is long, the characters will age. This is what differentiates an epic from a short story.

            Your task is to write a story employing a fast pace. Make things happen, keep the characters moving, include tension and conflict. Then rewrite the story slowing down the pace. Use lots of narrative sentences. Allow time to pass, second by second, at a measured pace.

            When finished, reread each version, looking to see which pacing technique works best.

            Have fun with this one.

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