Writing Excuses 10.34: Q&A on Pacing

We wrap up this month’s discussion of pacing with a Q&A. Here are the questions we pulled out of the virtual hat (read: Twitter) for answering during the episode:

  • What are some early indications of a pacing problem?
  • How do you chart pacing so that it remains even?
  • Can you control pacing using scene/sequel format?
  • How do you handle character progression during travel without making it choppy?
  • It feels like new authors are required to deliver breakneck pacing. Is this true?

Plot twists are coming next month. This exercise is called “hard left.” Take a scene that is moving forward at a breakneck pace. Throw a twist at them, and don’t break scene. Force the pacing to continue in the new direction.

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick, narrated by Karen White

3 thoughts on “Writing Excuses 10.34: Q&A on Pacing”

  1. This podcast makes me want to reread Harry Potter (as if I haven’t enough of that already… I can’t even count on both hands and all 11 of my toes how many times I’ve read them). JK Rowling does have excellent sign posting, something I really want to figure out and understand at a level she does. Would be nice to further examples of this! It’s amazing how she compresses one school year into one book and make it amazingly fluid and natural.

    I’ve been reading too much Urban Fantasy lately and I’m too used to thriller plotting. There has to be some technique she’s doing right to make it work so well.

  2. I missed the deadline by quite some time, but I’ve got a pacing question for you (Brandon especially, but any of you can answer): In a Memory of Light, there’s a chapter that’s something like 200 pages, while the entirety of the remainder of the book is about 20 pages a chapter. All of this chapter takes place in the same sequence, but with all the POV hopping and the rhythm of that battle, I noticed several points that made perfectly reasonable chapter break points. (Indeed, I stopped reading at a couple of those points – but then, I have a very weird sense of where I can stop in books; I’ll literally stop in the middle of dialogue, and pick it up without having to reread more than a line or two, even if it’s not a reread.)

    So what does having a chapter that’s drastically longer than average accomplish?

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