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Writer’s Craft # 83 Pacing a Series

July 30, 2012
Jaleta Clegg

Jaleta Clegg

Jaleta Clegg loves to play with words.  She writes science fiction adventure and silly horror, and dabbles in other genres.  She’s written an eleven book space opera, The Fall of the Altairan Empire.  Books 1 and 2, Nexus Point and Priestess of the Eggstone, are in print.  She’s published more than two dozen short stories ranging from silly horror to sweet romantic horror to humorous fantasy to science fiction. She’s a member of Broad Universe and BestsellerBound, both fine groups for authors to join.  Find more at http://www.jaletac.com.  Nexus Point: http://www.nexuspoint.infoPriestess of the Eggstone: http://journal-store.com/bookstore/priestess-of-the-eggstone/


Every writer understands pacing in a book is important. Start small, build to a minor climax, relax for a minute, build again to a bigger climax, repeat until you reach the final climax. It’s like the Mountain Climber game on The Price is Right – a series of peaks and valleys until you reach the highest point, then you push the reader right over the edge into your finale.

Each writer has their own way of pacing. For me, the most depressing, muddled point for my MC is about two-thirds of the way in. That’s when it looks like nothing is going to work out and the antagonist is going to win.

Pacing a series of connected books is similar to pacing a book. Think of the series as a giant story arc. Each book within the series has its own arc. Each chapter within the book has its own arc. With some broad plotting, you can build a series that not only will stand alone within each book, but will build to an even greater whole, like a television series such as Farscape. Each episode stands alone as a story, but together they create a far greater whole.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 30, 2012 6:47 am

    What you talk about here is exactly why “put all the bang in the first sentence” pressure annoys me. Pacing one’s story as you describe creates a narrative symphony. I think the space novels provide for the nuiances and variations is why I write a ten-novel saga.

  2. July 30, 2012 2:15 pm

    I do that two-thirds mark in most of my stories too. It’s sort of like the golden ratio concept the Greeks came up with. At about two-thirds of the way through the story, something happens that leaves things bleaker and more serious than ever. It’s usually the most fun part to write.

  3. July 31, 2012 10:29 am

    Thanks for the info. I hadn’t really given series pacing much thought until now. I’ll definately use what you said.

  4. August 2, 2012 4:48 pm

    Thank you for writing about this! I have a series on my horizon and when I saw this in my Inbox, I was thrilled. You’ve expressed exactly what I needed to give me a little guidance — in other words, nice and clear for someone who’s never done it before. Thank you again!

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