Setting the pace - a sprint or a foxtrot?
That Usain Bolt - he certainly knows a thing or two about going flat out, but when we're writing, isn’t pace more subtle than that? You’ll have noticed that I’m always banging on about the virtues of keeping things short. Short words, short paragraphs, short sentences … but hang on a minute. Does this always have to be the case?
Writing with rhythm
Look what happens if your sentences become unrelentingly punchy.
They cave in.
They’re short. Too short.
They lack life.
Each one is a grenade.
Chucked at your reader.
They have impact. Sure.
Boom! Bang! Crash!
One. Then another. And another.
Make it stop!
It’s simply all too much. Your reader needs a break to allow things to cool down to a gentle simmer … just … like … this.
Writing the foxtrot
The secret is to carefully pace your writing. Pacing means keeping your reader’s attention by allowing them periodically to gently rise, to fall, to pause and yes - occasionally to hurry, as you lead them on their way. When we're thinking about our writing, maybe it's better to imagine that it's not a sprint - more of a foxtrot.
Slow, slow, quick-quick, slow.
Here’s an example of perfect pace in commercial copy from the Polish frozen food company, Hortex.
“The best fruit and vegetables? Perfect products? Top quality? All natural products with no compromise on taste? Absolutely! That’s Hortex, Poland’s number one supplier of frozen food and drinks”.
See? It's not that difficult. Just a little careful thought and your readers will stick with you - right to the end.