Lesson 6

Manage the pace of your novel

Creating a detailed plan of your novel’s plot gives you an excellent overview of how everything knits together. This master plan is particularly important for ensuring the pace of the plot keeps the reader entertained and engaged. Even a great plot can be ruined by the wrong pacing, whether it’s too slow or too fast, or all bunched up towards the climax — which often happens with a first novel.

Pace can be set using the words on the page, as well as through the structure of the book. Short sentences, punchier descriptions, and short chapters give the sense of a fast pace. Long chapters and detailed descriptions throughout will provide a slower pace.

I believe that intrigue comes from a changing of pace. A book that is fast all the way through leaves no respite for thought. One that constantly moves at a snail’s pace could be too boring. By varying the tempo, letting it rise and fall, or gradually build, makes for a more interesting read.

I recommend drawing a simple line graph to chart the rise and fall of your plot’s pacing. If at any point you feel it’s too linear, or you think it rises and falls in the wrong places, think what you could amend or create to change the pace. You can also be clever with your pacing, tricking the reader with a false denouement maybe, or employing a fast-paced scene at the beginning of your novel for hooking readers in – almost every James Bond film uses this tactic.

With the pacing sorted, we’re now out of the planning stage. It’s time to dive straight into the writing!

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