In-Person: Seaport

Novel Essentials: Pacing

Friday, February 11th, 10:30am-1:30pm.
In-Person: Seaport
See Map
Level: For Everyone
Adult (18+)
13 seats max

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.

Class Format

This class will take place in-person at our Center for Creative Writing in Boston's Seaport neighborhood. Please note that proof of vaccination against COVID-19 is required to attend this class. Please submit your proof of vaccination here at least 48 hours before your class begins. Read on to learn more about GrubStreet's vaccine protocol and find information about where to get vaccinated below.

GrubStreet Vaccine Protocol

Please submit your most recent proof of vaccination, which requires a booster shot for those eligible, here at least 48 hours before your class begins. If you have previously submitted a proof of vaccination that did not include your booster shot, you will need to resubmit your updated vaccine card.  If you are not able to fill out our vaccination form 48 hours before your class begins, please bring your vaccine card (or a photo of it) with you to the building. Please note that if you arrive for class and you have not filled out the form and do not have proof of vaccination with you, you will not be allowed to participate in the class. And don’t forget your mask! In accordance with the City of Boston, masks will be required at all times while inside the building. Click here to read GrubStreet's full Vaccination and Masking Policy.


Vaccination status: For in-person classes and events, your vaccination status is considered up-to-date until the time you are eligible for a booster – which is 5 months after the second dose in a two-shot series. Boosters are required for all visitors on our second floor if your second shot was more than 5 months ago. 

Need help getting vaccinated? It’s free and easy to receive a COVID-19 vaccine! Please visit Massachusetts’ VaxFinder page to find a vaccination site near you. If you'd like to learn more, you can read the answers to some commonly asked questions about COVID vaccination here.

Scholarship Information

Thanks to the excellent literary citizenship of our donors, scholarships are available for all GrubStreet classes. To apply, click the gray "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your application at least one week before the start date of a class. Please await our scholarship committee's decision before registering for the class. We cannot hold spots in classes, so the sooner you apply, the better. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

For more more detailed information about GrubStreet scholarships, including how to contribute to scholarship funds for other students, click here.

  • -


grubstreet Image
Ursula DeYoung
See Bio

Previous Students Say

  • "Inspired Me to Write More"
  • "Inundated with Great Info"


  • Study Published Writing
  • In-Class Writing
  • Class Discussion


  • The Novel

Commitment Level



Need a scholarship?

Learn more
Writing the Smart Page-Turner
read more
Writing the Smart Page-Turner
read more
Writing the Smart Page-Turner
read more