Plot / pace

Question: This question may seem a bit ambiguous, but how do you know if your writing is too fast-paced or slow-paced? I know that some people prefer different paces, and it's fine for there to be some variation, but how do you know if it really is too confusing or boring?

Answer: With practice, you should be able to tell by your own feelings when you read your work back to yourself. If it feels emotionally right, if the flow of ideas and emotions moves you and keeps you reading (even though you wrote it and know what's coming) that's a good sign. You shouldn't feel like the story glosses over key moments without developing them. Nor should you start to feel the impatient urge to skip ahead.

If you're not sure or you don't have too many years writing experience under your belt, invite some other people to read your work and give you feedback. Maybe give a writer's group a chapter to read and listen to their responses.

Just keep in mind that you sometimes have to see past the intellectual criticisms you get and look at how well your story engaged people. Are they wanting to know what happens next (a good sign)? Did you stir up emotions in them (often a good sign)? Do they have very little to say (often a bad sign)? Are they confused (which means maybe you have to give more detail or deal with continuity)?

You can also ask them to tell you honestly if there are any sections they skipped over or any sections that seemed emotionally flat.

I suggest a writers' group because it will usually be made up of people who read a lot. If they read your genre, that's even better. But a book club or just some avid readers you know can be good too.

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