How Slow or Fast to Pace Your Story—Here’s the Key to Making Any Story Pace Work

Vik Rubenfeld#AskVik2 Comments

Solaris (1972)

SOLARIS (1972)

@mercblues writes:

@tdmiller820917 agrees:

For purposes of this post, I watched Solaris (1972), which while being highly-regarded, is considered to be one of the slowest-paced films ever made.

This film is a great example of a slow-paced film that can still hold your attention. It is, as it were, relentlessly slow-paced. 🙂 Scenes can go on several minutes with the least dialogue or action of any kind.

So how is it able to hold peoples’ attention? It does so through the power of suspense. You are in suspense all the way through to find out:

  • Will Kelvin survive?
  • Will Hari survive?
  • Will Kelvin and Hari’s love survive?
  • Will Solaris destroy the scientific mission from Earth?
  • Will the scientists destroy Solaris?

From the standpoint of satisfying the audience, pacing is a matter of the author’s personal preference. A story can be as slow-paced as Solaris (1972), and still be highly-regarded, as long as it has suspense.

So, to riff on one of the most famous sentences of all time—Fast paced or slow paced? That is not the question. To have suspense or not to have suspense—that is the question.

Ask me follow-up questions here or on Twitter!

I hope this has been helpful.

Updates:

2 Comments on “How Slow or Fast to Pace Your Story—Here’s the Key to Making Any Story Pace Work”

  1. I agree completely. A story can move slowly as long as it is suspenseful. In fact, you want a story to move slowly at times because if there isn’t enough build-up to the conclusion the audience feels unsatisfied.

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