From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Slowing Down the Pace

When I speak, write, or drive, I have a habit of going too fast. I'm trying my best to slow things down, but sometimes it feels like, despite my best efforts, I still just end up with people who can't understand what I'm saying, an MS that doesn't flow, and traffic school.

As far as writing goes, how do I slow down the pace? I guess my habit is just getting from scene A to scene B, and I'm not good at the middle stuff that fleshes things out and makes it all flow. I typically go back and add more detailed description to try and help, but what else can I do? What do you do to round out scenes and fill in the in-between-scenes stuff?

Adding detail and description is one specific thing I've thought of to help pace my writing (again, let me know your other ideas), but I've tried to think of ways to counteract my break-the-speed-limit habit in a general way. Meditation. Daily gym-ing and veggie eating. Ambient nature sounds while I write. Telling myself its okay to slow the freak down .

I think its just going to take time and practice. Because a nice controlled pace is not my habit, I'm not even sure exactly how or what one specifically does to keep that pace in writing, so I could really, really use your advice and ideas. My hope is that once I work out how to slow things down, I'll be able to make it work for me better and better.

Of course, we don't want things too slow either. Then it's in danger of becoming dull. But there's a balance, and since I tend towards the speedy side, I thought I'd see if I can get your advice for pulling things back towards that balance.

Sarah Allen


  1. I rush through my manuscript too. Many times I get little notes from my CPs like: [Too fast. Show me motivation, reaction, setting.]

    It's only after my CPs point out the rushed scenes that I can go back and tease out what the pov character is feeling and seeing, and how he should react.

    I know what the pov character is thinking, but my readers don't have ESP. I have to share what's already a known variable in my mind.

  2. I wish I could, but I rush everything too! :) My first drafts are always the bare bones of the story, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I flesh out the characters, sub-plots and details later.

  3. I tend not to write too much description and such in the first draft. I do think adding descriptions, showing vs telling, etc. can affect pace. Speed it up or slow it down. You definitely don't want it to be too slow, but too fast can leave the readers confused.

    I haven't tried this, but I hear reading the manuscript aloud can help with pacing.

  4. First I would tell you "no". Your writing has a flow to it. If you rush from A to B, that's fine. Going back to edit will always be better than stopping and trying to edit now or change your style. As the cable guy says. Get-er-done! The more you write and the more you edit, you will start to incorporate this into your writing as you go on.

    For myself my main tools of slowing things down and filling in between scenes is: Dialogue, and the Ordinary World (I blogged about the ordinary world last week)

    For example, in my second book there is a LOT of traveling going on. Instead of skipping the travel and having the story pick up when the characters arrive. I use these lulls in the action to fill in back-story. It lets the reader catch their breath and they get to learn something new about a character or two.

    I have a good example of this I would like to cut and paste, but this isn't my blog. :)

  5. I'm fast-paced at everything I do, including writing. I'm also impatient. I like instant results. The "nature sounds" you mention is one of the things I do. Walking in the woods on our farm, taking in world of nature, helps me to gear down and remember I am not really in so big a hurry. I enjoy your blog, and I like your writing.

  6. I wish I had this problem. My writing tends to be very slow. But I will say that the best way I know how to pace things is by stepping back, reading it and seeing it as a whole. I can't make sense of the pacing until I can read the whole thing.

  7. I rush through my manuscript to get it all down. Then, I let it stew and simmer.
    As I read back over it, I mark the places that need more. Then, I go back and take my time, playing each scene out in my head.
    This is when the plot can change.
    It's a long process, but I like the revision stage.

  8. My M/C has internal dialogue that shows her conflict. Since she is a child, she is also a rambler and distractable. So that helps me in keeps from moving too quickly through the current event.

  9. Thanks for visiting. Try my book. Stop by the blog again soon!

  10. I tend to rush through everything in life especially a first draft at a very high speed. I often go back and use dialogue to slow the pace.

  11. About the only thing I can suggest is practice.

    I uses to suffer the same thing way back in high school, in that I would write essays and quite frequently skip an important paragraph and mess up the entire essay.

    I still have the same problem with my writing, in that sometimes I'll jump ahead and forget a particular detail, which results in me going off on an unintended and unwanted path.


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