I think it’s about time I talk about one of my opinions on the most popular genre of fiction. Fantasy comes in so many forms. We have so many classic examples of good fantasy writing and bad fantasy writing. I want to focus specifically on pacing, rather than popular novels and writing methods.
The pacing of a fantasy novel varies depending on the plot and length of the novel. More modern fantasy novels like to spend time on action scenes, those exciting moments where the elements of the fantasy world are on full display. Other novels tend to focus on slower moments such as character interactions, setting the scenes, and so on.
Conflict is essential for any story where you want the plot, or the characters, to develop. That’s why it makes sense for most fantasy writers to include so many action scenes, to keep the energy up and the characters moving.
The slower fantasy novels still include these conflicts, these exciting battles, but they are fewer, and more spread out. The pacing must rise and fall with the scenes, which is risky for modern readers. One could easily create a scene that drags on too long and many writers despise this in all novels, no matter the genre.
Depending on your pacing, your target market can change completely!
While modern fantasy novels are faster, they still include many details that make up a fantasy world. It’s typical for older novels to spend more time addressing these details, to truly immerse the reader into the world space.
That’s not to say more modern books don’t do that. There are many great examples of slow-paced fantasy being released today, but generally shorter novels are favored by the modern reader. When you have a smaller word count to work with, you want to tell your story and tell it well, not waste words on painting a picture for the reader.
You want to give them a good idea of what is going on and let their imagination fill in the rest. That is a method that keeps readers reading, but doesn’t give you a lot of space to present a fantasy world rich with detail and lore. (At least, not without writing an entire series of novels.)
First and foremost, I believe every writer should create a story that they would personally read. That covers the plot and pacing.
I like slower fantasy novels more than fast ones.
I grew up reading a lot of fast-paced novels, I still enjoy them. I then read a slower-paced story, such as The Once and Future King by T. H. White, a King Arthur book. The writer really took their time to get the plot moving, but it grew on me. The moments spent on small interactions, details, and events were just as enjoyable as the thrilling moments.
I started picking up books that were brick-thick with interesting plots. These kinds of fantasy stories I find a lot cozier than the action-packed ones, more immersive and relaxing. Of course, if I don’t have the patience for such a lengthy novel and feel like something shorter, I can find many great fantasy novels. Yet, more often than not, I am looking for slower novels to read.
Yet, I can’t ask every writer to start writing slower, as there are many examples of fantasy novels failing because the pacing is so bad. When action scenes are slow they lose their impact, when slow scenes are too slow you lose a lot of reader interest. In many cases, it is safer to write faster-paced novels than slower-paced ones.
Sure, that means more focus on the plot and less of a grip on the elements that make up the fantasy world, but you will likely retain reader interest.
That’s kind of the rule that I follow when it comes to pacing and I think I follow it a little too well. I like to keep myself interested in my story, but as the writer, my perspective on the story is badly skewed. I know what’s going to happen, so I am focused on the destination, not the journey.
With that said, I have come to believe that slower-paced fantasy novels are better than faster-paced ones. In my opinion, I think creating a deep world space, one different from our own in so many ways needs to have a writer who takes the time to properly present it to the reader. A mixture of subtle and direct methods for showing the world can really make a fantasy novel great, in my eyes.
Now, here is the funny thing; I’m not good at slowing down.
My head is focused more on moving the plot along with character interactions and conflict. I appreciate the slower scenes, I really try my best to write them, but more often than not I am disappointed. The writing comes off as unnecessary. I have to remind myself constantly that there are some details of a fictional world that aren’t worth mentioning.
Luckily, I have my wife who points out areas where I can include a fun detail, or where something is boring and unnecessary. It’s always good to have a second opinion, especially if you are dabbling with an aspect of writing that you aren’t comfortable with.
I would like to hear your thoughts on the topic! Do you prefer faster or slowing pacing in your fantasy novels? Do think it’s easier to write them one way or the other?
Let me know your thoughts and suggestions for future topics in the comments below!
Thank you for reading and as always,
Good day, goodnight and happy writing!