Tuesday, March 12, 2013


As if in slow motion…

The next time those words pop into your head—stop writing. Here are some ways to slow down the pace of a novel without resorting to that tired phrase.

1)     Increase the level of your detail. In the constant balance between plot and scene, the greater the detail of the scene, the slower the pace of the novel.

2)      Go back in time before the current event. Bullet is about to hit the character and he reflects on the misstep that brought him to that point in time.
3)    Go forward beyond the moment. I would one day look back on that moment and remember the prayer I uttered when I heard the gun fire its bullet. I would say…

4)    Uncertainty. I can’t remember if I heard the explosion of the bullet in the gun’s chamber before I felt the heat of the lead in my gut…

5)    Step by step description. The blood drained away from the crease in his knuckle—the pressure of his finger on the trigger reaching that all important point when the hand and mind gave way to the mechanics of the gun…

6)      Questions. Would it hurt? Would I even feel the bullet enter my body? Or would it be like the doctors on all of those old movies say, “he didn’t feel a thing.”

7)      Use Latinate instead of Anglo-Saxon words. Capacious, commodious and erudite expressions slow down pace.

8)      Stop time and reflect. I could not see the bullet on its path, but I knew that my time to die had come. I knew it as surely as I had ever known anything in my life.

9)     Make sentences complicated and diverse in structure.

10)  Word choice. Lazy or tentative words will bring that pace to the reader.

11)  Paragraph length. Longer paragraphs equal slower pace.

12)  Use of comparisons. The similes and metaphors and other analogies tend to slow pace.

13)  Direct action vs. summary. This is somewhat duplicative of #5, but the more description of the action, (and by extension, less summary) the slower the pace.

If you have any other tip to slow down the pace of writing, please leave a comment!