Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Struggling with Slowing it Down? Some Thoughts On Pacing

If you're like me, and you're the type of person that scans twitter while cutting out polar bears for storytime and scribbles notes for stories on the scraps, you too may have pacing problems when you write. And maybe, what I'm about to say will be useful to you.

Specifically, I have a hard time slowing it down enough for readers to insert themselves comfortably into the story. (Unless your idea of comfortable is a crash landing like Luke Skywalker's landing on Dagobah.) In trying to slow it down, or at least not land in a swamp of words, I've come up with some ideas. I thought I'd share them for anyone else who's having problems out there. If you need to slow down a scene, if it's too speedy, try these on for size.
  1. Handwrite the Scene. I've found this to be extremely useful. My mom made me take typing classes during the summer back in the 1990's, (my mom, she was clairvoyant, she knew that whole computer thing was going to catch on,) so sometimes I type faster than I think. If your scene feels to fast, it might be worth it to try handwriting the scene from scratch on paper. Since you write slower than you can type, this method causes you to think more and get your head further into the scene as you're writing it than straight typing.
  1. Description. In general, description is the bane of my existence in writing. I tend to hate it as much as I hate those little cotton balls that they put in your mouth at the dentist's. But if your scene feels to fast, maybe it needs more description. As you're writing the scene, trying looking around at the setting, hearing sounds and noticing smells. What do the characters look like? All of these description based elements will slow down the pace a bit. They also help the reader get inside a story. So even though I struggle for two hours to produce lines like: “The slushie machine hummed in the silence.” In the end, those sentences are probably worth the extra time.
  1. Internal Dialogue. Bonus: this helps your reader connect with your character. And since it stops the clock on the action in the scene, it gives the reader a chance to adjust to events that are happening, process them and slow down the pace.
  1. Pause for tea. I am a huge advocate for tea. It has all those anti-oxidants in it, which I secretly think help with the writing process. Or maybe I just really like tea. Beyond that, stepping away for just a minute sometimes makes it easier to see details that can be added.
I hope, if you're having sprinting writing problems like me, these options will help slow it down. Let me know in the comments if you have your own thoughts or suggestions on pacing. I'd love to hear them.  

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