Worried my book is moving too quickly.

by Jeremy

Question: I'm writing my novel and even on page 11 a lot has happened. I'm aiming for the book to be approximately 200 pages long so how might I be able to ease out the pacing?


Answer: If your plot is moving too quickly, don't just start "padding" in order to stretch out the pages. Instead, you can add length and make a better story by developing each event more fully.

A good event will follow the standard 4-part dramatic structure:

1. Setup - establishes the situation, character, and purpose.
2. Complications - conflicts, obstacles, or challenges.
3. Crisis - the moment when the efforts culminate in an action or decision that that determines the outcome.
4. Resolution - the outcome, which for most events will propel the story in a new direction (towards the next event).

Any event in your story will follow this structure. However, you have the choice of making the entire event happen in one scene or making each part happen in its own scene, which turns your event into a sequence of four separate events.

If that's not enough development, you can repeat this process, turning some of the four events into sequences as well.

In this manner, events add up to sequences which add up to acts which add up to an entire novel length story. The advantage is that every event is a key part of a dramatic arc that is itself essential to the story, so nothing feels like mere "filler."

The other thing you should ask yourself is if, in your description of events, you are doing enough "showing" versus "telling." Are you giving readers a "summary" of what happened, or are you letting them experience the events in full detail?

The more important an event is, the more you need to take the time to present the specific details that make the scene come alive. Watch for instances where you are summarizing a scene or an event versus presenting specific details which allow the reader to create a vivid picture in his mind.

As a general rule, use summary or telling for transitioning between key events and showing for the events themselves.

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Slow Down
by: Brent King

One of the things that really helped me is what James Scott Bell says about slowing down. This not only stretches the length of your story, but increases reader interest and tension.

Sections of physical peril or uncertainty are a perfect place to slow down. Bell says to "go through the scene beat by beat in your imagination, as if you're watching a movie in slow motion...alternate between action, thoughts, dialogue, and description. Take your time with each one. Milk them."

You can also do this with emotional turmoil.

Doing this as an adjunct to the great advice Glen has already given you will help you add more length to your story.

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