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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > May 2016 > Pace yourself

Pace yourself

Breathless and action-packed or slow and emotive? Helen M Walters explores how to handle pace with examples from three classic short stories

In this month’s classic short story masterclass we’re going to look at the importance of pace. How do you make sure the pace of your short story is right for the amount of action you have and the type of story you are going to tell? It will, of course, be different for a high adrenaline adventure story and a more contemplative emotional story. We’ll also consider how you can speed up and slow down pace where you need to in order to control the flow of your story.

Read all three stories at

So what is pace? Put simply, pace controls how quickly or slowly the reader feels they are moving through your story. It’s the difference between fast-moving sections, which keep your reader on the edge of their seat, and slower sections, allowing them to reflect and absorb what is happening.

The classic short stories I have chosen to illustrate this are The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell, Miss Brill by Katherine Mansfield, and Babylon Revisited by F Scott Fitzgerald. As always, you’ll get the most out of this article if you read the stories as well. Spoilers follow, so visit now to read all three.

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