When it comes to writing stories, pacing really happens at three levels:
– in the overall story (the “narrative arc”)
– in the scenes
– in the lines (passages and paragraphs)
Often when people are talking about pacing, they are talking about it at a scene or line level, but the overall story has its own pacing too. Some sections will have faster, tighter, and more intense pacing, while other sections will have slower, looser, or more leisurely pacing.
It’s also important to acknowledge that–especially when it comes to narrative arc–this is somewhat relative. What might be “fast pacing” in a drama, probably wouldn’t be considered “fast pacing” in a thriller. To some degree, what’s “fast” or “slow” relates to the pace the story sets up initially.
Nonetheless, any story of any genre can be in danger of speeding sections up too fast or slowing them down too much.
So let’s dig into more about pacing within the narrative arc.