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  • Marisa Wolf

Pacing and figuring it out

Whew. I originally kicked this off by typing 'what a week' but it's been 'what a week' for...a long time. So instead: whew.


This particular week has brought insane weather to some of my favorite people in several places I used to live, and it's an ongoing crisis on top of so many other crises. I hope you're as well as humanly possible given all the everything.



Given the realities of 2020 and the start of 2021: now with more 2020ing, I've been thinking about pacing in life and writing. Both are a marathon and not a sprint, and goodness knows my pacing has been all over the place (and honestly, I'm not a very good runner anyhow).


I'll talk about life pacing and getting my writing done in a future blog, when it won't feel as much like I'm jinxing myself, but pacing in storytelling has been a huge focus lately.



Partly because I've been writing more, and pacing can make or break a story. I've written a couple of short stories the last few months, and each time, in the first draft nothing happened until the last thousand words.


I know there are stories where that can work, but let me tell you these first drafts were not those exceptions. Finding the right beats so everything built up well took edits and restructuring and throwing out entire parts, and writing new ones.


You feel it when a story hits the right beats at the right time - aaand there's no perfect answer to what that is, because it's different for different readers.


For example, we've been (very enthusiastically) watching Wandavision. Though I've been super spoiled by eye-guzzling bingeable content, it's been lovely (and maddening, but mostly lovely) watching how the showwriters/runners are rolling out and building on the mystery. After every episode I've texted my sister in various combinations of all-caps "WHAAAAT" and we theorize about what could be happening.


We wouldn't have quite the same reaction if we watched it all at once - though there'd be a different kind of satisfaction for sure - and so I'm loving the suspense and various mysteries.


Not everyone on these here internets agrees with that - some folks have called it slow, or boring, where I can't get enough.


So pacing, like so many things, can be right for some readers/watchers, and completely off for others.


For now, I'm trying out a three-part structure in my short stories - small, building action moments in each third of the story that build up to the last, crowning moment of resolution. We'll see how it goes - maybe I'll have a different theory after the next three short stories I write.


What's a story that's rolled out in a really satisfying way for you lately?








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