Take the Pacing Taste Test
Does your novel have good pacing? Here’s a down-and-dirty test for finding out.
Q: Did something happen on this page (or in this scene or chapter) that caused a character to have an immediate reaction?
One of the hallmarks of creating a compelling story is that what happens causes an immediate reaction. Cause and effect. Action and reaction.
What are immediate reactions? They can be…
- Emotional (feelings)
- Physical (actions)
- Intellectual (thoughts, conclusions, observations, revelations)
- Verbal (dialogue)
Without a reaction of some kind to what is happening in the scene, you’re just reporting a lot of details that aren’t connected to the powerful story engine called Great Pacing.
From the reader’s point of view, “No reaction? Must not matter. Never mind. Zzzzzzzz.”
If your character doesn’t care, then why should we?
Readers take your word for what’s important, specifically they take your character’s word.
If there’s no immediate reaction by at least one character, not even shocked silence or a new realization, then the reader concludes that NOTHING IMPORTANT IS HAPPENING that can’t be summed up or skipped.
When your story has good pacing, you’ll find that change is afoot, characters react to what is happening, and this reaction moves the story forward.
When your story has Total Pacing Suckage, you’ll find there’s no character reaction connected to the story movement. Not a single reaction to anything on the page (even if that page is very well written).
Learn From a Master
Let’s look at an example from Wolf Pass by master storyteller Steve Thayer. I’m choosing this example for three reasons: Continue reading Bam! Pow! Wham! Good Pacing Causes Immediate Reaction