Pacing and Control

“Pacing is all that makes the flow, the balance, the rhythm of the writing” (12). This is from a book called Fluent Writing, by Denise Leograndis. She goes on to say, “understand—if writing is done well, if it reads fluently, then it’s well paced. So simple. So complex” (13).

Writers and writing teachers talk about the process of writing something honest, something close to the heart, and how it seems to flow naturally. They say it feels like the characters and the story itself becomes a separate entity, an independent force, and that a good writer does her best then to just stay out of the way, to be a vessel through which the story passes.

In Bird by Bird, a book of insights about writing, Anne Lamott writes, “Over and over I feel as if my characters know who they are, and what happens to them, and where they have been and where they will go, and what they are capable of doing, but they need me to write down for them because their handwriting, is so bad” (60).

This is how the Bible explains our spiritual lives as well, that the Holy Spirit works in us and through us. This takes a different kind of humble striving, working to allow Christ to show through our actions and decisions.

In Colossians 1:28-29, Paul writes,

28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

A good editor can sense an author’s weaknesses through the muddled pacing of a story. The writer’s doubt comes through in a story that’s “overwritten,” paced too slowly and consequently redundant. Or the writer’s pride might show through in a story that’s rushed and takes too much for granted. A well-paced story flows naturally, doesn’t cause the reader unnecessary distress or worry, and is ultimately the most effective, employing the greatest emotional impact.

Just like a story with good pacing shows its fruit through being truly satisfying to readers, a life put in God’s control is truly content. Galatians 5:22-23 says, But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

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2 thoughts on “Pacing and Control

  1. Do you think the notion of pacing also applies to living life? Are we in a rush to live our story and we miss out on the fullness? Conversely, we can be tentative or static and thereby thwart what God may have planned for us. Certainly, God is patient, but as the poster says, His timing is perfect. We, mortals, struggle to appreciate and maximize time, yet we are cognizant of it and are bound by it.

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