on Career Authors:
How readers move through a book depends on its pacing: the rhythm and tempo that propel the story’s events. Of course what constitutes a truly satisfying reading experience differs from person to person. Some readers prefer novels that slowly, elegantly unfold. Others seek fast-paced pleasures that raise their blood pressure while they eagerly flip pages.
As a rule, literary fiction proceeds at a slower, more deliberate pace, with an emphasis on introspection and language. Read Free Love by Tessa Hadley, Alice Elliott Dark’s Fellowship Point, or the novels of Elizabeth Strout or Kazuo Ishiguro to see these skills beautifully executed. By contrast, commercial fiction usually demands a fast-paced read with a page-turning plot. For a few excellent examples, check out The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave, Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson and City of Fire by Don Winslow. And there are always more fantastic books to be read by Stephen King.
Whatever category your book fits into, you need to be aware of the reader’s experience of your story. It’s easy to get carried away by your own brilliance (and perhaps research) and lose sight of the reader. But it’s crucial to make a distinction between what the writer wants and what the story needs. That’s the difference between the amateur writer and the career author: a vigilant focus on the reader experience. Stephen King knew this. He had the bookworm in mind with his amusing but spot-on advice to writers: “Try and leave out the parts that readers skip.”
So what are those parts?
Here are 5 tips to pick up the pace.