Updated: May 9, 2022
Imagine this: A warm steaming plate of freshly cooked pasta, your favourite kind. As you shovel the first mouthful of it into your mouth, you scald yourself and now it tastes of cardboard. Every other mouthful you eat after the first just tastes awful because you can't enjoy the flavour.
That's what pacing feels like. If your plot isn't delivered at the right pace for your readers, it will feel like a masseuse doing karate chops instead of giving you a relaxing massage to undo your tension.
Patreons to credit: -This could be you. Join now.-
In this blog, I will discuss the importance of pacing and why you should learn to master this seemingly insignificant skill. If you wish to know more about what pacing consists of, there are already plenty of free articles on the internet about it for writers. Just check out Masterclass or even Reedsy's blog. They covered a majority of what you'd need to know in your writer's starter pack so I won't reinvent the wheel.
However, if you wish to know more about it from the practical aspect to create more flavourful stories, here's Aitsuji's advice!
#1: Powerful Pacing Can Create Powerful Chemistry!
Although powerful pacing cannot create miracles, it's darn close to creating the big bang in my words.
Giving your characters time to develop and interact with each other often enriches the flavour of romance or friendship. The stronger the bond between two individuals, the sweeter the victory, the spicier the romance and the bitterer the deaths.
Imagine investing your entire life in loving someone you thought you could have a future with. Every single goddamn day, rain or shine you would see them, think of them and be with them. You shared your first anniversary, your second then a third. You've even adopted a kitten together that's named after the both of you. You just know that this is the person you're meant to be with and they do too.
As you are preparing the cake you hid at the back of the fridge from them and are placing the candles on it, you receive a call. The caller bears news that the person you envisioned such a happy future with was involved in a fatal accident in the five minutes that they left your side to run an ordinary errand that you begged them to do.
Because of someone else's drunken fault, a life was lost. Because of someone else's mistake, the entire definition of your future happiness is lost. The weight of the ring you have in your pocket that should be on her finger by now, if she hadn't left the house to get you a damned bottle of coke, suddenly feels heavier than the weights you lift at the gym.
That's how powerful pacing is if you give it time to grow.
Similarly, your readers will unknowingly be like this poor unfortunate person who never got to propose to the love of his life. Before they know it, they're already too deep to let go.
#2: Powerful Pacing Packs a Punch!
Another thing that pacing can do is help you deliver the K.O. that you need. Although writers don't always have beefy arms or well-toned triceps, we can learn to deliver mental mindfucks to our readers with enough practice.
How? I'm glad you asked because I took a long time trying to write this blog.
Now, imagine this. You can hear it coming. You can smell its awful rot clogging your nostrils as you run. To breathe the air now would kill you but not to breathe would suffocate your overworked lungs.
It burns. Everything burns from your eyes to the muscles in your thighs but your brain screams at you to keep moving if you want to stay alive. You can hear it right behind you! It's screaming for reinforcements and any form of resistance against this thing have been rendered useless in mere seconds. You remember the colour of blood that this creature painted with from the corpses of your commander.
It is superior in every form that a human can possibly think of - intelligence, physical prowess, a grotesque appearance and even technology. There's no possible way that you could win against it. Yet, here you are, struggling for a chance at salvation.
If you could get back to the safety of your ship, you might be able to develop a new cure for the neurotoxin. You can still feel pain, it's a good indicator that you won't become an amputee yet.
If you could get back to the safety of your ship, you could activate the plasma ray gun, the only weapon that it is weak to. The sacrifices of thirty top combatants weren't in vain after all.
If you could get back to the safety of your ship, you could leave this godforsaken planet from hell and never come back! Humanity still has a chance!
If you could get back to the safety of your ship, there are-!
Enough said, you probably never made it back but that's the whole point. Powerful pacing can pack a punch enough to make your reader experience the OOF in your story. Thankfully, they can put down the book at any time before they risk a cardiac arrest like our unfortunate space explorer in the above example. Better still, your readers might be mindfucked for a little while but they'll still have their heads attached. It's a win-win situation, you cannot convince me otherwise.
#3: Powerful Pacing Delivers the Punchline!
ROFL! LMAO! LOL! Comedy is always appreciated around the world but it's tough to deliver the punchline every single time. Not everybody who tells the same jokes can get the same reaction from audiences. What a headache!
However, with powerful pacing, rest assured that even if you don't have your audience in stitches, you can still make most of them crack a smirk with mild amusement at your attempts.
Thinking back to the times he mistreated his favorite author, Ignatius wallowed in guilt. How could he insult her about having refined taste in literature?! The time when he watched her freeze after the faucet accident and the intentional torture of making a starving person watch him eat started weighing heavily on his conscience. The more he reflected on what he did, the paler Ignatius became. With nobody else to share his woes, Ignatius picked up his phone and dialed for a familiar number once more. (Aitsuji spoiler here: Ignatius had previously called this person.)
The pink-headed capo, drifted into a dream about sunny meadows. He could see several cows munching the grass beneath them from left to right. What a good break from the noisy city! He lifted a cow like dumbbells using his bare hands. Suddenly, the cow made a loud moo with the sound of rock guitars. Startled, Chrisvan lost his strength and dropped the heavy cow. Just before it could smash his head open, the capo woke up, and was dragged back to reality unwillingly. Reaching for his phone on autopilot, Chrisvan bit back a groan when he saw who it was.
"Boss?" If the caller was not Ignatius Teivel, Chrisvan would have thrown the 80-pound dumbbell at the caller’s face.
Comedy is difficult to establish because everyone's idea of humour differs. There are some people who might find certain humour offensive due to cultural differences, personality preferences and experiences. However, for the vast majority of what I found work, the most effective humour was original and authentic.
Although Aina still has lots of room for improvement as a writer in terms of learning how to pace her work, she is a natural at setting up a scene for laughs with her readers because of her personality which can be seen very clearly from her works. I didn't really do a lot for this excerpt, I only helped her with pacing and English. All the ideas here were her original but you can identify how the build-up was made because I've highlighted points that escalate a 0% to 100% in just a few paragraphs. You don't even know the whole story but you can assume the rest of the chapters are filled with such light-hearted humour ^^
#4: Powerful Pacing Provide Intimate Details!
All those smexy good smut that you've been wanting to replicate in your writing? Hell yeah! I know I've covered How to Write Smart Smut before in a different blog. I can promise you, it's not all that different.
Here, I will simply illustrate good pacing vs a poor one for your better understanding of its importance.
As their tongues battled for dominance, interesting chemistry happened in their lower halves, particularly at the groin area where a certain area was getting stiffer and a certain other area was getting wetter.
"Dammit!" he cussed as she hooked her legs around his hips, positioning him for the mission. Who was he to deny this vixen the sausage she wanted?
In one swift OOF, the sword was sheathed to the hilt and she threw back her head hard enough to give herself whiplash as she bounced from his hip like riding a bumpy car, moaning his name with inaccurate pronunciation repeatedly.
Hard hip thrusts and powerful abdomen muscles worked hard as two bodies struggled for completion, covered in sweat and stealing each other's oxygen. It was a race to get to the finishing line and neither wanted to lose.
With one powerful jab to the sacred cavern, he painted her holy shrine white. With the heady need for release gone, he took a look at the vixen's face and immediately went limp where he was so energetic moments ago.
Who was this ugly creature lying on his expensive sheets?
If my writing appeared slightly hilarious, know that this isn't how I normally write my intimate details. It was simply made slightly more child-friendly but the idea remained. If you don't feel tingly in your toes after writing such a scene, rethink your pacing. Is there enough eye candy and action in your oolalas? Pacing makes all the difference in the world!
#5: Powerful Pacing is Addictive!
Just like how Uncle Roger likes to promote more flavour with the liberal use of MSG in cooking, pacing is much like the MSG of writing.
I have never seen a reader getting emotionally invested in a book with terrible pacing. Honest. You cannot cry over a fictional character without first liking them with your entire heart. Killing a randomly created fictional character is just a past-time to many of us. We do it all the time in games. So what makes you think we're going to change our minds about one extra death in a world that doesn't exist?
Works with good pacing will always hook our readers. It's like an addiction you just cannot quit easily like a bad romance, some good old-fashioned cannabis or even cigarettes. Think of a book you really love reading and re-read it with a pacing investigator's monocle. You'd find that compared to those you couldn't emotionally relate to or become interested in, the secret ingredient was - pacing. And maybe it wasn't your cup of tea but let's ignore that.
Not convinced? It's your loss. I personally believe that powerful pacing is the trick to making your readers love someone, hate someone, cry over someone or laugh at someone in your book. It's also known as the writer's subtle art of manipulation but honestly, it doesn't matter.
Writers are all secretly attention whores at the end of the day who only want to be loved, more loved and most loved by the people who read our works. Our characters are our weapons used to make people like us better as a person so why not take it to the next level?