September 26, 2013 by Jen Cudmore
When it comes to writing a novel, rhythm and pace are a big factor in creating a compelling story. Rhythm and pace are controlled by the length of each word, sentence, paragraph, and chapter.
Here’s a simple formula to follow:
Short sentences, paragraphs and chapters = faster pace.
If you’re writing a scene with a lot of action or energy, use shorter sentences and paragraphs. One or two word sentences raise intensity, as does a paragraph with only one or two sentences.
Long sentences, paragraphs, and chapters = slower pace.
Readers sometimes find long paragraphs and chapters daunting. Long blocks of wording give a feeling that extra effort is required to read that particular section. However, there are times when the author needs to insert these fuller sections to help calm the pace of the story after a high energy section.
The trick is balance.
Too much action and the reader will become exhausted. Not enough action and the reader will get bored. Keep it varied. You don’t want the reader to pause because they got lost, or to skip a section because it was too tedious. Each sentence, paragraph, and chapter must flow smoothly.
You don’t want every page to look the same. On my first manuscript I worked hard to keep the chapters all the same length. Then I realized it was not only okay to vary the length, it’s actually beneficial. So give your manuscript a quick skim and see how you did at varying your structure.