I have been told several times over the years that my books are fast-paced. Editors, agents, etc. have told me that my books travel from start to finish like a speeding train without brakes. Sometimes this isn't a good thing. Some people want a nice, slow ride. My books are not for them. I write YA books because teens seem to enjoy a book that moves along without slowing down. I decided to write this post after receiving a review on Smashwords about Crushed from a guy. Usually guys don't read my books because they are paranormal romance, but he gave me four stars and said I have mastered the art of pacing. Good to hear. Now if I could just get a handle on other aspects of writing.
I spent some time last night thinking about pacing. I know of a few author friends who have trouble with it. They have asked me a few times how I do it. I never really know what to say, but I'm going to give it a shot here and see if I can figure it out.
1. Don't Waste a Scene: I try to make sure every scene has a reason for being in my book. It has to share a new piece of information with the reader, develop the characters further, take the reader on an emotional ride, or move the plot forward in some other way. Also, if I am bored while writing the scene then the reader will be bored reading it. In that case, I start over.
2. Conflict: There are always several things happening in my books. The protagonist has a main problem but also several smaller ones. I think conflicts help the story move at a faster pace.
3. Sentence Structure: Shorter sentences make things move faster, but you have to watch it or your book will be choppy. That was the number one complaint from my former editor. I had to really work on varying my sentence structure. However, I do use a lot of short sentences during fight scenes or other scenes where the protag is in danger. As far as I know this approach works well. I haven't had any complaints from professionals when it comes to my action sequences.
4. Dialogue: Conversations make the story go faster and long, detailed paragraphs slow it down.
5. Shorter Chapters: This is a trick I picked up from another writer. To pick up the pace, make the chapters shorter towards the end of the book. When you are doing suspense, maybe a mystery, you want to pick up the pace near the end. This works. Also shorter scenes help make it seem to move faster.
Okay, that's all I can think of right now. I don't do any of these things intentionally when I write though. When I sit down at the computer, I am not thinking about making the pace move fast. I just write.
Hope this info helps someone. Happy writing!