Narrative PacingA Presentation by J. Everett HaleL/O/G/O
Pacing What is Narrative Pacing? • The speed at which an author tells a story; the movement from one point or section to another. • The rate at which a story moves.
Scenes and Interludes • When you think about a scene in a novel, the first thing that comes to mind is a fast- paced action sequence. • Interludes are the slower parts in between the scenes when the character reacts emotionally to whatever has just happened.
Scenes and Interludes • Scenes in a novel should actually read slowly, and interludes should happen more quickly. • Scenes, broadly speaking, contain all of the novels interesting and exciting and dramatic material. It makes sense, therefore, that the readers wont want them to be over with too quickly.
Controlling the Pace Showing Showing vs. vs. Telling Really Showing There are two ways to control the pace in a narrative: Showing vs. Telling and Showing vs. Really Showing
Showing vs. Telling • Showing means writing fiction in such a way that everything is described in vivid, sensory detail. • Telling is flat and factual. It states something but doesnt demonstrate it.
Showing vs. Really Showing • While telling usually takes place in a few words, showing can take up as little or as much space as you want. How much space you allow it to take up depends on the events importance in the narrative, and whether you want the readers to skip through it relatively quickly or to linger over it for much longer. • How much you show can make the difference between a chapter being ten pages long or fifty pages long.
Linking Devices Use theme and motifs to connect the major acts of the book and provide propulsion forward in the plot. • Story links help the readers make sense of what’s going on by reminding them of the goal and journey. • They leave a scene unresolved, urging the readers to read on to provide closure.
Sequencing Pacing, as a technique, is “carried” by individual scenes, and often requires preparation to get the reader anticipating what’s to come. • Scene sequencing (a sequence of scenes presented as a mini-story, rising to a turning point) can increase the pace.
Propulsion • Anything that “pulls” the reader into the next scene or makes her speculate about the future will quicken the pacing. • Make the reader ask a question in one scene and then postpone the answer for another scene.
Fast is Not the Only Pace You can vary the pacing of scenes in different parts of the book for different purposes. • Slow down to create suspense • Speed up to simulate urgency
Beats A beat is a segment of narration that tells the reader whats happening in a scene, gives them a good fix on the setting, and helps manage the perceived passage of time in a story.
Beats in Scripting • The term, “beat” comes from playscripts and screenplays. • In scripts, when the playwright wrote a “beat”, it meant that he wanted the actor to pause a moment before speaking the next line.
Beats in Fiction • Use beats in your scenes when you need a character to pause a moment before going on to the next action. • Beats can be used when a character would take a moment to absorb the impact of something that has just happened.
Beats Manage Pacing • Beats—their presence or absence, and their length, long or short—are the playback knobs of your story. • The longer the beat, the longer the pause. • More text in a beat means more time has elapsed in silence.
Beats in Action Scenes • As you get closer and closer to the climactic moment, use shorter and shorter paragraphs. • Long paragraphs = lazy summer afternoons. • Short paragraphs = urgency and quickness.
Resolution • The end of the scene is crucial for pacing. • Don’t end a scene on a resolution (except perhaps the last scene in a book), but on some issue that won’t resolve until at least the next scene. • If the scene ending is too “complete,” add some tiny question or doubt at the end.
Works CitedChapman, Harvey. "How To Write a Narrative With Pace." Novel-Writing-Help.com. Novel-Writing-Help.com. Web. 9 March 2013.http://www.novel-writing-help.com/how-to-write-a-narrative.htmlChapman, Harvey. "Writing a Narrative by Showing and Telling." Novel-Writing-Help.com. Novel-Writing-Help.com. Web. 9 March 2013.http://www.novel-writing-help.com/writing-a-narrative.htmlGerke, Jeff. "Fiction Writing Tips." WhereTheMapEnds. Marcher Lord Press. Web. 9March 2013.http://www.wherethemapends.com/writerstools/writers_tools_pages/tip_of_the_week--31-40.htmRasley, Alicia. "Top Ten Pacing Tips." Romance University. WordPress, 28 February2012. Web. 9 March 2013.http://romanceuniversity.org/2012/02/28/top-ten-pacing-tips-by-alicia-rasley/ L/O/G/O