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PACING AGAIN – SLOW

October 26, 2022

            I’ve talked pacing before (2014 & 2017) but the ole’ nugget of inspiration struck me again as I recently suffered through an icky bug with a pacing problem. As an avid reader, while also being a writer, I like to learn from other people’s mistakes. I also look at what’s out there that’s either trending for good or bad.

WHAT I LIKE

            In the last article, Pacing Again – Fast, I stated what I like to read. I won’t rehash it here. What I will say is there are plenty of genres I won’t read because the pacing is usually too slow. That includes most fantasy and literary fiction.

SLOW PACING

            I’m no fan of rambling on. Where this takes us is fast from the previous article to slow in this one. There are just as many extremes with slower stories.

            The gist of this is that something has to happen right at the start, and after maybe a little smelling the roses, something else has to happen.

            That does not mean chapter one is action, and then nothing else really happens until halfway through the book!

LITERARY FICTION

            Literary fiction is all about stopping to smell the roses, and characterization.

            The character opens the door. Then the author rambles on for fifty pages on the description of the room, door, whatever…then rambling thoughts about why the character opened the door.

            While that description may seem extreme, it isn’t too far off the mark.

            Some people really enjoy the rambling. It’s the reason they read in the first place. What happens is secondary to everything else.

FANTASY

            Unfortunately, given that the entire fantasy world is often made up, the fascination with that made up world is far too often dampened by rambling and characterization.

            What should be exciting ends up being nothing but a snail’s pace of a slog.

            I may sound harsh about that, but seeing as how I suffered through more than a few thousand-page tomes, it’s true.

            As I like to say, quite often the story doesn’t live up to the cover artwork.

            Mind you, this is personal taste, as there are many fantasy fans out there, but the ones I enjoyed were a bit shorter and up on the pacing.

            Were they thrillers with a fantasy theme?

            No, they just had stuff happen.

MAGIC FORUMULA

            There’s no magic formula for pacing, though to keep a readers attention, it’s a good idea to back off on the descriptions and characterization for many readers.

            If you want to ramble, go right ahead. Just don’t expect about half your audience to put up with it. Or, to put it more exact, don’t expect a multitude of potential readers to get into your rambling.

            Let instinct be your guide.

            Happy writing!

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