Novel Essentials: Pacing

Friday, January 22nd, 10:30am-1:30pm
Remote (Live Zoom Meetings)
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Level: For Everyone
Adult (18+)
This class is full

Every novel tells the story of characters moving through time, but how should a novelist manipulate that time span? Which periods should be hurried through with an overarching narrative summary, and which should be lingered on in detailed scenes with dialogue and description? When should the author take the time to create atmosphere and environmental detail, and when should the plot move forward at a faster pace, ensuring the reader’s continued interest and excitement? These questions form one of the most complex and difficult of a novelist’s challenges--the daunting task of determining a novel’s pacing and momentum. In this seminar, we will analyze the elements of pacing and the many speeds and styles with which narratives can carry the reader through time. We will examine the published work of several authors to find examples of different narrative speeds, and we will discuss the pitfalls of books that are too fast, too slow, too stilted, or too detailed. We will also explore, with consideration to the novel that each attendee is writing, the connection between the aim and genre of any given novel and the pacing it requires. By the end of the seminar, each writer will have gained an understanding of the mechanics of pacing and, in addition, will have a better sense of which pacing technique will work best for their own book.

Part of GrubStreet's Novel Essentials Series, led by Ursula DeYoung and dedicated to exploring the fundamental building blocks of the novel. Classes include:

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Ursula DeYoung
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Previous Students Say

  • "Generative"
  • "Supportive Environment"
  • "Inundated with Great Info"


  • Generate New Work
  • Craft Lessons
  • In-Class Writing
  • Instructor Feedback
  • Workshop
  • Revision Assignments
  • Lecture
  • Class Discussion
  • Reading Homework
  • Writing Homework
  • Concept Development


  • The Novel

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