Pacing – Why must you torture writers?

Posted: March 14, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

So, a writer I know wrote this article on the importance of Setting. And another writer I know wrote a follow-up post on it. You can read it here. They’re both pretty good, and they’ll probably convey my point more fluidly than me… but I’m going to go ahead and write my own take. They mostly talk about setting, but I want to talk about something that’s rather synonymous with setting – pacing. Plus, I had a snappy title for Pacing in mind. Sue me.

Setting and Pacing is everything. Most times, if the reader isn’t hooked in the Prologue or the first chapter, they drop it like it’s on fire. Doesn’t matter if the summary on the back cover is absolutely awesome. That’s just how it works. However, you need to create a unique setting ,while keeping the pacing at breakneck speeds. 

That is pretty difficult. It’s not a sign of a bad writer if they want to take a breather and start writing about the setting. That’s normal. The problem with pacing is that you can’t stop for a second to explain what the reader is seeing. 

Imagine, if you will, that the writer is a tourist guide on a rocket ship, breaking through the atmosphere of Earth and into space. That’s pretty fast. Now, describe all the sights the passengers are seeing without boring ’em, or halting the pace. That’s difficult, isn’t it? 

So, I want to talk about when it’s acceptable to slow down the pace. 

One of my beta readers noted how my book had very little fluff. It was both a good and bad thing. You may ask, “Jian, how can it be a bad thing? Are you just bragging about your mad skills?”

Hmm… Yes. I am. But it can be a bad thing because life is not without fluff. And we, writers, aim to make our worlds as realistic and as life-like as possible. That’s ironic, since Fantasy began as an escapist genre. However, the genre has morphed in the past century, and now we can do a lot of stuff with it. 

My book’s Prologue starts out with the technical main character walking to his death. Then the next chapter is of his successor getting stabbed multiple times, and going into a coma. Yeah… I kind of jumped the pace, didn’t I? You see, I write what I want to read. And what I want to read is super fast books. I want to read a book, finish it, and go: “Did that seriously happen in just a week?”

Pacing is the enemy of writers because it slows down the moment you take your time to explain the setting. One of my beta readers said (not the same one) that Worldbuilding is kind of my weakness. Now that I reread my book, I hate the world building. It’s ridiculous. My pacing was so fast that I didn’t really have fun with the world. Basically, we’re in this country, right, and it has a whole lot of strife. Lots of mercenaries, and priests are sorcerers and they control everything.

Of course, about halfway into the book, I do take my time with world building. But I took too much time to get to the “fluff”. It can be seen as unrealistic simply because there’s no fluff. There’s no heroine (well, I do have a heroine, technically, but not in the traditional sense of the word), no romance, and no spa time for the characters. 

Pacing and Setting are the devils on a writer’s shoulder. I think that the most important thing a writer should do is write a beginning which blows the socks off of your own two feet, and then spend the book having fun with it. 

Pacing and Setting will come afterward in the Editing room, but if you concentrate on just Pacing or Setting, you’ll end up with a boring book. Pacing and Setting, in a lot of ways, are organic and natural things. Your characters set the tone for the book, and their experiences set the pacing, and what they see becomes the setting. The best thing a writer can do is make amazing characters, and make up experiences that the reader would want to read about.

Then spend the rest of your time making the world feel real and epic once you’re done. 

I realize I’ve probably bored all of you, but I wanted to talk about my own experiences. Which kind of makes me a bad character, since my pacing is TERRIBLE. I really should make myself a better character…


See ya later!

P.S: I’ve probably talked your ears off about this, but my Guest post has been posted. It’s about, like I said, my favorite YA book. Really hope you check it out, and Like it. It would mean a lot to me. Also, be sure to click those two links in the beginning of this post. Those writers are awesome, and their posts are probably more coherent than mine. You’ll get the gist of what I was trying to say in their posts. 


  1. dotdotquote says:

    Pacing isn’t my forte either. I’m still finishing a first draft, so I’ve not bothered to look over it yet, but I know there are issues, issues such as a dramatic scene almost immediate following a more sedate one and the mood shifts with an audible clunk. It needs fixing, it should flow smoothly, otherwise the reader may suffer from metaphorical whiplash (and that’s never good :P).

    Fast pacing is fine enough, but too much in one ago and the reader doesn’t have space to breath, slower scenes allow them to catch up – a bit of “time out” as it were. This can be achieved by mood and setting, lengthier sentences create a slower pace as does longer dialogue.

    • J.A. Romano says:

      Yeah, awesome point. Been examining my “slow” parts a bit more. At times, my sentences are too direct. So, I’ve been trying to make the peaceful moments, you know, more peaceful… instead of making the reader feel like they’re back in the war zone again. xD

      Thanks for commenting.

  2. tktrian says:

    Good post! But you did like Mistborn series, didn’t you? it’s at times pretty slow-paced. So if the world and characters are very interesting, a slow pace can be digestable 🙂 LoC sure is fluff-free * envious * but then again, what is fluff can be debetable. Like… IBS can be a character trait or — OMG — fluff! (disgusting! Fictional characters can’t have ailments unless they’re sexy or tragic!!!1 Who wants to read about something so vulgar and hooooman!)

    • J.A. Romano says:

      Good point! And Solus’ fluff is pretty interesting, imo. It’s quite realistic, which is awesome. I worry sometimes whether I’m going too far with my magic stuff in LoC. Thanks for commenting, guys. : )

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