On Story Pacing...
Updated: Aug 17, 2020
Pen, pencil, computer, or typewriter, as long as I'm writing it's an on-pace kind of day.
Story pacing, I think, is a lot of fun. It’s about giving your characters the room to run or walk in their journey towards a satisfactory ending. Each story has a couple of different flows intertwined within any given, well, story. You have the writer’s natural voice, the action of the scene, and the actual spacing of sentences and words side by side. So how do you go about getting the right pacing for your particular story?
I may not have the answer, but here’s what I do to capture a story’s pace.
Writing for me is an absolute joy. I never count words or page numbers or demand a story does something it does not wish to do. I’ll first watch a scene in my head and go that’s a neat idea, and either I’ll write it down right then or hopefully remember it later. If I don’t, no big deal, another idea will come along soon. If, and I emphasize the if, the story does not fade but gets clearer and stronger in my mind’s eye and pops up in my mental space for days, I must write that story down. I’ll sit and write that scene all in one go without a break to think about anything else. I trust this process of writing in a burst of creative passion that I am capturing the story at its preferred pace. That’s my story’s natural flow.
"Then, I’ll go do something else for awhile, something with my hands and not my head. Another scene will come that fits in with the last scene and I’ll go and write that down. I’ll keep doing this until the scenes stop coming, that’s when I know that story is done.”
Next is, of course, revision. Definitely, spelling adjustments because I write fast and sometimes skip letters in my haste to describe the movie playing in my mind. I’ll look at the sentences and see if they capture the feeling I have while watching the story, if not, I’ll make them shorter or longer. Shorter for fast-paced drama scenes and longer for slower storybook-esk descriptions. If anything feels off, I highlight it to come back and fix it again later. Then leave it alone for two days at least. Come back and see if the flow is still how you remember it, read it out loud, adjust, and then have more fun be making it even better than before. And finally, smile. You’ve created something from nothing and given it breath and space in the world for you and others to enjoy.
Happy writing my fellow creators!