Meetup 038: Narrative Pace

Last weekend we had one of our prettiest, sweetest, smartest writers, Susan Sreemala, host a session. She drove the session on ‘Narrative Pace’.
The parts of a conventional story writing were broken down into five distinct ideas – Introduction, Summary, Dialogue, Action and Prolonged Outcome.
And each of them were to be written in distinct, disconnected patterns from one another, using a consistent pace.

Narrative pace determines how quickly or how slowly the writer takes a reader through a story, explains Writer’s Digest. The story itself determines the pace of the story. It relies on the combination of mood and emotion as these elements play out in the dialogue, setting and action. For example, a story such as Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code” has a much faster pace than Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love.” Additionally, the pace of the story varies; the opening pace may feel very different from that of the story’s climax.

Narrative passages that contain a great deal of detail — slowly establishing scenes and containing longer sentences — feel slower than other parts of the story. Additionally, writing longer chapters or switching the narrative’s focus to another subplot conveys a passage of time.

Alternatively, fast action and rapid sequencing put a little spring into the narrative’s step — as does the cliffhanger. Both of these narrative elements make the reader want to go on to the next page to see what happens to the story’s hero.

For fast action

  • Use powerful verbs.
  • Avoid passive sentences. Short – or even incomplete -sentences flow faster.
  • Minimize the use of conjunctions.
  • Paragraph breaks create impact.
  • Avoid overly complex wording.

To slow down a scene

  • Make your sentences longer, and give more detail.
  • Word choice becomes more complex and you see a different structure being employed.
  • Changing the flow, as demonstrated here, of a sentence changes the pacing as well.


By the end of the session, most of us could grasp a clear understanding on the striking balance for Pace. We all managed to write stories that move very quickly, but together connected with a more leisurely pace. This helped us keep the tension high and the story moving without allowing the reader to become bored. As tough as the topic may seem, the idea brought out just as many wonderful stories from the writers.

Cheers everyone! Meet you again next weekend! Stay tuned to know more on how we roll!