Photo by Jarrett CampbellPacing: it’s one of the most challenging things in a story. On the one hand, you have to keep the story moving along to keep the reader interested. At the same time, you have to slow things down periodically to give the reader a chance to absorb what they’ve read, and maybe summarize things a bit before pressing on to the next big crisis.
Since I’m in the bad habit of writing a story and sticking it in a drawer or a “finished” folder and never touching it again, I have not had to deal with the issue of pacing very often. I hardly ever look at those stories again to know whether the pacing worked well or didn’t. Now that I am going back over the stories I’ve written, these things are now noticeable.
My current edit-in-progress is one such case with pacing issues. I think it may have started out at a decent pace, then dawdled a bit, and then raced to the finish line. Now, I’m stuck with the task of speeding up the early to mid-range stuff and slowing down the later chapters. I still don’t think the first draft was in that terrible shape overall, but it’s pretty evident that there is a major issue with pacing in the last two or three chapters. I mentioned before how I felt re-reading it, that I had missed writing words because I was typing too quickly – it wasn’t just words. It was entire scenes, subplots, and character development. Now, I’m trying to rectify all of it.
How do you adjust the pacing of a story?
In this case, I have added more scenes and dialogue to places where the story is a little sluggish and there is too much narration. With the parts that need to be reined in a bit and slowed down, I am adding more scenes and running off with my subplots a bit to add more to the timeline between certain major plot points.
I think the rewrites and new scenes are actually working out nicely. I don’t think I could have planned them better myself. Some of them just fell into place naturally, which is a real blessing. However, it has been difficult figuring out exactly where to add these new scenes – I have had to rewrite some of the existing stuff to make it transition more smoothly with the new additions.
That part always hurts more for some reason. I hate rewriting more than I hate cutting stuff out. It’s probably because those were perfectly good words to begin with, and in rewriting them, it’s not that they were unnecessary and had to be eliminated, but rather they are no longer “right” and have to be switched out. It’s much more difficult to rewrite something that’s already there because you have come up with a new way to say almost the same thing, while working in a few minor tweaks for the transition.
I am currently working on Chapter 8 of 9 on my edit-in-progress, but it has needed a LOT of work. At the rate I’m going, I’m not sure I’m going to make my original goal for an early February release date. This is still the first draft I’m revising, and I’d like to go through it a few more times before publishing it on CreateSpace and Kindle Direct.
I’ve spent most of the focus of this revision on story flow and structure, character development, theme development, etc. But, because I’m a perfectionist and a little OCD, the grammar, syntax, and punctuation stuff gets fixed along the way when I catch them. The next few revisions will focus more on mechanics and technical stuff, as well as making sure the stuff I’ve added looks all right and fits where I’ve put it. Considering I’ve added about 8,000 words throughout this revision, that new content will be important to focus on during the next revision.
While I expect the next few drafts shouldn’t need nearly as much work, seeing as I’m really overhauling the original first draft, it’ll still take some time to go back through the pages with a fine-toothed comb.
I’m very excited to share this story, but I really want to make sure it’s in the best possible shape it can be before I put it out there for the world (and the reviewers) to read.
Look for a cover reveal and more details on progress and dates over the next few weeks! I may not make Valentine’s Day for its release like I originally planned , but I may still be able to wrap up by the end of February or early March!
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