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How to Use ProWritingAid's Pacing Report

The ProWritingAid Team

The ProWritingAid Team

ProWritingAid: A grammar guru, style editor, and writing mentor in one package.

Published Oct 05, 2020

Pacing refers to the speed at which a story is told and how quickly the reader is moved through events. Good writing contains faster-paced sections, such as dialogue and character action, as well as slower-paced sections, such as introspection and backstory.

A book that is entirely composed of car chases without taking the time to make you care about the character being chased just won’t be effective at bringing readers into the story. Likewise, a story that has four chapters in a row dedicated to your main character’s Zen contemplation may need a bit of action to keep readers interested. Differently paced sections should complement each other, allowing the reader to move with you through the narrative.

  1. How to Use the Pacing Check
  2. How to Change Up Your Pacing
  3. Final Thoughts
  4. Start editing like a pro with your free ProWritingAid account

How to Use the Pacing Check

ProWritingAid’s Pacing Check finds those areas in your writing that are paced more slowly so that you can spread them out. Too many slower paced paragraphs in a row and your reader’s attention may wane.

When you run the Pacing Check, the software will highlight areas it identifies as introspection and backstory. Think of the Pacing Check as a tool you can use to learn more about your manuscript, rather than a dictator telling you to change everything. Just because a paragraph is highlighted doesn't mean it needs changing. Some introspection is good - how else can we get to know your characters?

pacing check on screen

However, if several paragraphs are highlighted in sequence, it might be a good idea to break them up with some action.

You can use the toolbar to the left of your screen to navigate between paragraphs. The bar will give you the first couple of words of a highlighted paragraph. To jump to that text in your manuscript, just click on the curved arrow, as below:

Pacing Navigation

If you read a highlighted paragraph and find that you're happy with how it is paced, you can use the eye symbol to turn the highlight off. This way, you can focus on the paragraphs you want to change.

How to Change Up Your Pacing

Has the Pacing Check found several slower paced paragraphs in your writing? Here are some ways to break them up.

Dialogue Exchange

Have your characters engage with each other with quick fire dialogue. This will help move your story forward, enrich characterization and, most importantly, keep your reader engaged. Your main character might come away from the exchange with a new perspective, or it might function as a segue into a new scene.

PRO-TIP: When you're writing fast paced dialogue, make sure you're using dialogue tags sparingly. Keep any distracting tags like 'shrieked' or 'howled' out of your writing—stick to 'said' and 'asked'. Find out more about how to use dialogue effectively in this article.

Action Scenes: Sentence Structure

Break up your backstory with action sequences. This doesn't have to be a car chase or a fight—it could be a dinner party or a discovery. To make a real shift in your pacing, use short to medium length sentences and punchy words keep your reader hooked.

PRO-TIP: Are you hiding your verbs? Enliven your writing by using strong verbs in your action sequences. Take this sentence:

Weak: Active verbs make your writing stronger.

Strong: Active verbs strengthen your writing.

Use ProWritingAid to sharpen your prose and make sure you're always using the best word to get your message across.

Final Thoughts

A slow paced novel is a novel many readers won't finish. Keep readers engaged by checking your pacing with ProWritingAid.

Start editing like a pro with your free ProWritingAid account

When a reader sees a grammar error, they start to lose faith in the writer who made it.

ProWritingAid is one of the best grammar checkers out there - but it's far more than that! The Editing Tool also looks at elements of structure and style that have an impact on how strong and readable your writing is.

More, it helps you learn as you edit, making you a better writer every time you use the program.

The best way to find out how much ProWritingAid can do is to try it yourself!

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The ProWritingAid Team

The ProWritingAid Team

ProWritingAid: A grammar guru, style editor, and writing mentor in one package.

The most successful people in the world have coaches. Whatever your level of writing, ProWritingAid will help you achieve new heights. Exceptional writing depends on much more than just correct grammar. You need an editing tool that also highlights style issues and compares your writing to the best writers in your genre. ProWritingAid helps you find the best way to express your ideas.

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I find this "check" the most confusing. Some slow pacing is needed in good writing, and by interjecting fast-pace in the middle of slow pace seems arbitrary and illogical to me. I love that this software computes which is which, but the solution for it doesn't seem viable to me. I guess it just warrants a 2nd look when you tell me I have 15 paragraphs of slow pacing. You don't tell me how many paragraphs of fast pacing? Not too logical?
Able to work with others to identify, define and solve
what's the correct way writing this sentences
what's the correct way writing this sentences
I've been editing my articles in it and I've had to rewrite several paragraphs different ways but the check comes up the same everytime!
This link might help people trying to improve pacing -
After a little testing, I figured out that any (so far tested) paragraph can be changed from slow to not slow by removing or changing the word "had" (or hadn't) in that paragraph, everywhere it occurs. That is the only change necessary. One can even change "he had" to "he'd" and it will no longer report as slow.
You are so right. I also tested this after reading your comment. But we can't remove had from all the instances.
The ProWriting app is damn helpful, unexpectedly amusing too if you'll excuse my use of an adverb. At issue here is the Pacing graphic, in the Summary review. It shows 12 blocks of varying thickness. 11 of these track along the same baseline. 1 sits below that baseline. Any suggestions as to what this anomaly means, hints at, indicates? Anything?
And then, in the best traditions, the plot thickens: I printed off a copy of my 'pace report' and there, in the background - another 8 ghost bars indicating . . . . who knows what?
I would say that the Pacing Report is useful, for example if you've written 20 paragrpahs and 15 are flagged as having problems with pacing. That said, one shouldn't take the Pacing Report as the Bible--it is an excellent indicator of where one's writing could benefit from improvements, nothing more. Case in point: I took a 595-word excerpt from Stephen King's The Institute I found online, then did a copy-paste in the software. The passage had an overall score of 89%, a reading ease of 71%, a Glue Index of 44,5%, and flagged three paragraphs as slow pacing. If experienced, published authors like Stephen King are using ProWritingAid, they may be deliberately choosing not to accept the suggestions made by the software.
Wow, you really have a handle on how to get the most out of our tool! Well done! :)

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