articles

 

Pacing

Pacing is a factor of a number of aspects of the novel:

1. choosing the right scenes to tell the story. This is particularly critical at the start, but it’s important all the way through. According to Debra Dixon’s GMC, every scene in a book must have three purposes; one of those needs to be either G, M, or C, and the other two can be many different things – the romantic arc, character development, comic relief, the list goes on.

If you make sure that, first, your scene is well grounded in the pov character’s goal, motivation, or conflict, and that it also serves other purposes for the story, you’re a lot less likely to bore your reader.

2. the mix between narrative, description, backstory, dialogue, action. The highest interest is usually dialogue, with action being close behind. Description, the character’s musings, and other narrative are important to the story, but best kept in tight control.

3. related to the above is “white space.” This is a concept much used in graphics, but it applies equally well in reading text as well. A page with very little white space doesn’t arouse a potential reader’s interest. It’s another reason, besides the fact that dialogue is intrinsically more interesting to read than narrative, why a page with considerable dialogue and short paragraphs is more inviting to the reader. Below are some web pages about the use of white space.

If you mix your dialogue, action sequences with short sentences and short paragraphs, and your narrative sections, you’ll come up with an attractive page. Try to have no more than a couple of paragraphs of narrative.

For maximum interest for your reader, make sure you have some white space on every page.

Some resources about white space:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_space_%28visual_arts%29
http://www.grantasticdesigns.com/whitespace.html
http://desktoppub.about.com/od/whitespace/White_Space.htm

NOTE: This article is from a Critique workshop my critique group (Joleen James, Gina Robinson, Gerri Russell, and I) gave at the Emerald City Writers Conference in October 1-3, 2010.