Tips for Faster Pacing
Not all romance novels require fast pacing, of course. Some books — such as a sweeping historical saga, for example — seem to demand a slower tempo. But for the majority of the novels being sold today, faster pacing is a necessity. Luckily, you can increase your odds of making a sale by mastering a few tried-and-true techniques for speeding up the pace of your romance novel.
Romance readers, like most readers of fiction, generally prefer to stop reading at the end of a chapter or scene. Often, they will flip ahead to see how many pages are left until the next break. If you write short scenes and short chapters, they'll likely keep telling themselves “just a few more pages” until the next stopping point. Your goal when they reach that new stopping point is to hook them so they'll continue reading “just a few more pages,” and then repeat the process until they ultimately finish the book.
On the other hand, if your chapters are longer, readers may decide to put your book down in the middle of a scene … and never pick it up again. A novel with shorter chapters and scenes, even when the book has the same number of pages as a novel with longer chapters and scenes, will often take a reader less time to read.
Varying both the length and structure of your sentences can also make for faster pacing in your novel. Experiment with single-word paragraphs, or single-word sentences. Not only can their occasional use add impact to your writing, they can keep the reader turning those pages.
Another way to keep the pace moving at a fast clip in your romance is to focus on action, rather than narrative. Descriptions, of any kind, slow down pacing while action sequences speed them up.
Nothing slows down your novel's pacing like lengthy paragraphs of character introspection. While it's probably impractical to eliminate all introspection from your romance, try to intersperse it with dialogue and action, to keep the story moving. Read through your scenes and cut any unneeded descriptions and wordiness.
Dialogue — especially the short, snappy variety — is another excellent way to increase the pacing of your romance novel. For scenes between your hero and heroine, experiment with using dialogue exchanges that don't include tag lines (
For this technique to work, make sure that you:
Use distinctive voices for each character
Have short dialogue exchanges of no more than one line in length
Naturally, the dialogue should advance the plot or clarify some aspect of characterization. (For more information on writing great dialogue, refer to Chapter 14.)
Another way to ensure fast pacing is to use subplots that support the main plot. For example, if you are writing a romantic suspense, the suspense subplot would advance the main romance plot because, ultimately, the two are connected. (If the mystery is not solved, the killer not caught, the hero and heroine cannot have their HEA.)
The key to a fast-moving novel is to maintain the focus on the main plot. For a romance novel, that would be the romantic relationship between the hero and heroine. Anything that propels that forward ensures faster pacing.