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This past summer at the Ventana Sierra Writer’s Conference, Lorin Oberwerger, a book editor, shared a great tip:

fast = slow and slow= fast

When she first shared this, I thought “what the heck does that mean?” But then she explained, and it’s a useful guideline once you understand it.

It has to do with pacing in your story. Some stories suck us right in and keep us on the edge of our seats the entire time we are reading them, rarely giving us a moment to take a breath. These are the books we can’t put down. During other stories, we find ourselves skipping pages to get to something . . . anything, happening.

So how does the above formula apply to pacing your writing?

Slow down during your fast paced action scenes, the intense scenes that move quickly with high levels of conflict. Add details. Ten seconds in your character’s life might take a page to describe.

During your slower scenes in which your main character takes a minute to catch their breath and decide on their next course of action, speed up. Get through that section, so you can throw your character back to the metaphorical wolves.

Boring sections of novels often occur because the writer has employed a faulty writing formula: slow=slow. With a focus on exposition, back story, or scenes in which nothing happens, the pacing slows too much. Don’t spend pages on these elements, get through them quickly.

How do you deal with pacing? Do you pay attention to it? Go through your work in progress and check. Have you followed the fast=slow and slow=fast formula?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.