Pacing is one of the most difficult things to master in novel writing.
These days the emphasis is on fast paced stories. Publishers are looking for break-neck speed, action that drives the story onward. And if publishers are looking for it so are agents.
My first piece of advice is to always ignore what others are looking for in your writing. Write what you want to write in the style that you want to write it. To bow to the whims and the will of whatever is popular at any given time is to be disingenuous and it WILL show through in your imitation of a bestseller (and. let’s face it, in today’s climate you’ll have to title your novel something like The Girl Who Rode a Train to the Tattoo Parlor and Disappeared.)
HAVING SAID THAT:
If what is currently popular happens to be what you love to write, then great! You might just be the right person at the right time, and The Girl Who Rode a Train to the Tattoo Parlor and Disappeared might be a masterpiece!
But don’t ever be a copycat. Wouldn’t you rather be the trendsetter than the follower? Be the best at what you do not a passable imitation of what someone else does.
Now, on to HOW to pace your novel:
Don’t even think about it. Don’t worry about it. Don’t address it – until the second draft.
If, while you’re writing you find yourself thinking ‘I Need to speed things up in chapters 1 to 4.’ or ‘I get to the action a little too quickly in chapter 9.’ Tell yourself to shut up and keep writing.
These things always become clearer in your first full read through of your finished first draft. Here you will make notes as you see the bigger picture and you’ll be able to clearly see where the pacing issues lie without the muddle of the rest of the unfinished book on your mind. You’ll know how your story should flow and you’ll be able to calmly and rationally make the necessary adjustments.
The trick to good pacing lies in your finished book’s readability – you want to make it a novel that the reader can’t put down. This does not have to mean action on every page but it does mean that the plot is always moving forward, the dialogue is always interesting and your story is more flow than ebb.
And always remember: What is too gradual and dull to one reader is an epic slow-burner to another. Write what you want to write.
@benjamin0liver (the O is a zero)