Pace of Revelation

Writing mysteries/thrillers requires a great deal of control. The writer must tightly plot so there are no loose ends, no gaping plot holes, and perfect pacing. While pacing is important to all prose, these genres, especially, require the writer’s astute handling of it.

These genres hinge upon raising questions in the mind of the reader. What has happened? Who is behind it? How bad is it? Will our hero recover? Will he or she find answers? The writer doesn’t want the reader inundated with questions on page one. They’ll feel overwhelmed and give up. Space questions out and allow them to build. As the protagonist moves through his crisis, the reader asks questions. The best pacing allows the reader to experience tension and anxiety but also allows moments of relaxation, time to seek answers without worrying the hero is facing immediate death.

These are not easy things to accomplish, but they are essential. A story that reveals too much too fast falls flat in the last half of the book. A story that reveals too little, loses the reader to confusion early on. The goal must always be to reveal enough to keep the reader reading on, but not too much or the reader is ahead of the plot. Check your story. Are you revealing things at a pace that is good for it? Good for the plot? Good for the characters? If not, do you need to speed up or slow down? Revise accordingly.

Other Articles on Pacing:

Steven Symes

Writer’s Digest

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