The Most Important Rule for Pacing Your Novel

Published over 1 year ago • 1 min read

Hi Bookfoxers,

So you write a boring scene.

You know it's a little boring. It's slowing down your novel.

But you don't know how to spice it up.

Sometimes, there's nothing fundamentally wrong with your scene. It's just:

  • dialogue between two characters
  • thoughts of the protagonist
  • lengthy description of a place

Still, your writing instincts tell you not to delete it (always listen to your instincts!).

Perhaps it's a scene that's essential for your novel -- contributing to the theme, or just crucial build-up so the rest of the book makes sense.

If you've had this problem, I have an easy solution:

Put your less-than-exciting scene after an action-packed scene.

That's right.

You don't have to rewrite the scene -- you might just need to change where it's located.

If you have a big event:

  • A huge reveal
  • A fight, whether physical or verbal
  • An action-packed scene

Then you've bought yourself some time.

The reader is so hyped up by the Big Event/Action scene, that they're willing to read anything, absolutely anything, so they can continue your book.

And that's where you place your necessary-but-not-super-exciting scenes.

This is a pacing technique.

Alternate between high-octane scenes and calm scenes, between revelation scenes and humdrum scenes.

The reader will catch their breath during the calm scenes. In fact, they need those little breathers, because otherwise it becomes exhausting to read a book where every moment is a gigantic reveal.

But wait!

You can learn more writing tips in my recently released book, "The Linchpin Writer."

And thanks to the many readers who have reviewed the book already on Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok, Amazon, and Goodreads). I love you forever and ever.

Happy Writing,

John Matthew Fox


John Matthew Fox helps authors write better fiction. He is the founder of Bookfox, where he creates online courses for writers, provides editing and offers publishing assistance. He is the author of "The Linchpin Writer: Crafting Your Novel's Key Moments" and “I Will Shout Your Name,” a collection of short stories.

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