Editing for Pace: Story Structure

The first step I usually take in revisions is delete slow material. After all, we don’t want to bore the readers and risk loosing them. But what about pace — changes in speed of action also keep the reader’s interest and keep the reader from burning out.

Hero's Journey
Hero’s Journey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Structure can be applied in the outlining phase for “plotsters” or during the revision phase for “pansters”. Structure helps you recognize sections that rush and drag. These sections can usually be fixed by a change of pace.
Detailed story structures — like the Hero’s Journey —  have some pace advice built into them. Intensity increases as the plot progresses, yes, but there are also built-in times for love scenes, “campfire scenes”, and regrouping. These come after big action scenes.
Many — I dare to say most — commercial books have romance at least as a subplot. And, of course, the romance genre is the biggest slice of the fiction market. Make sure your romantic characters have time to bond in a variety of situations. Bonding time can be a chance to give your readers a different kind of action.
“Campfire” scenes in the Hero’s Journey are group celebrations and bonding. Campfire scenes are chances for the group to recognize that a character has changed, matured, become more acceptable. This doesn’t mean there isn’t conflict or that the story momentum stops. Overcoming a big obstacle may have given the character inflated self-importance or other negative beliefs. These are just a few possibilities for conflict.
A potential contrast to the celebratory campfire scene is a scene when characters have faced a devastating loss and must recover and regroup. The pace slows as assessments and adjustments are made. Don’t forget the inner element! Indeed, depending on the type of book you are writing these scenes may be primarily internal.
In short, after a big conflict, there is usually a temporary drop in pace while characters react. these change in pace are typically built into story structure. And there are many structures to choose from! You can even combine structures so there is no reason that using story structure should stifle

your creativity.

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