Previous entries in the Mysteries of Pacing series:
Part 3 - where we discussed the TV Series Outlander
Part 4 Story Pacing
Part 5 How Fast Can A Character Arc?
Part 6 - How to Change a Character's Mind
As previously noted in this series, each genre has its own preferred pacing. When an editor calls for "fast pacing" it is relative to the genre in question, not an absolute measure.
We have previously defined "action" as "rate of change of situation."
Pacing is more than action. Pacing is more than "what happens next," or how few words come between what is happening now and what happens next. What "happens" is plot. Pacing includes the plot's links to the story.
We use the term "story" for the Character's internal conflict progressing to a resolution, and the word "plot" for the Events the Character's actions and decisions cause to hurtle toward a resolution of the external conflict.
Terminology varies across texts on writing craft, but all writers and editors (even marketers) search for and identify these two elements, plot and story, in any piece of fiction.
Pacing Mysteries lie in the interlinkages between plot and story, in what the Character wants but doesn't have, what the Character does to topple the dominoes of his life and start the plot rolling, and what the Character learns from the events caused by that toppling.
This interlinkage effect is why there is so much confusion about Plot and Story, and why they are used interchangeably as if they refer to the same thing. The truth is, they are the same thing -- a LIFE in FLUX.
Both plot and story are integral parts of your THEME, and the world you build to showcase your story is constructed on your THEME. Theme is what you want to say about the form, shape, and dynamic change, of the relationship between Plot and Story.
How a Soul interacts with Reality, and what to do to cause which result, and why even bother trying, are the warp and woof, the very substance of the relationship between Plot and Story.
The Plot is "the story of this life." The meaning of this Character's life is the story, and that story fuels the plot (because people do things to make their life go as they prefer).
Take for example, finding your Soul Mate. How do you do that? How do you choose what to do to make that discovery happen?
What actions lead to finding your Soul Mate reveals something so fundamental about the structure of the universe that science hasn't dug down to it yet.
A Soul is a spiritual concept, and so far science can't even determine if such a thing exists, never mind what it is and how it interacts with reality.
From time immemorial humans have KNOWN all about Soul and the Meaning of Life.
Science investigates these questions, refutes Ancient Wisdom for decades, and eventually comes around to confirming at least the general idea if not the details.
Right now, science is in hot pursuit of how the brain works. We looked at a scientific study of the brain which reveals little or no difference in the areas of the brain activated during sexual arousal in men and women.
But people, being people (your main audience) already know, without doubt, that men and women respond differently to different cues in flirting, foreplay, and hot flying.
There are many other things people know, without doubt, that science disagrees with. Yet at the same time, Ancient Wisdom and some classic writings, agree with your audience's position on the matter.
One stable opinion that lasts generation after generation, derived from personal observation, is how very stubborn people are about their opinions and ideas.
People do change their minds -- people can be persuaded. A whole math based science has arisen around methods of changing the behavior of large groups of people. It's called Public Relations (PR) and we've discussed it under many topics here. It is how we change minds about who to vote for, or what breakfast is most healthy.
Everyone knows it's expensive to launch a product (or book) because of how long it takes and how many times a person has to see a message from apparently different sources before it will be accepted as true.
Novel readers work the same way. They will accept that a Character has plausible reason to change behavior or opinion (the great pivot to "I love you!") if there are enough iterations of the message that finally "gets through" during the novel.
There is an ancient science called Rhetoric that was developed to persuade people on a logical level. But you can't reach the "Happily Ever After" ending and make readers believe it is possible if a Character is convinced they have found their Soul Mate only on a logical level.
On the other hand, without a logical level, there is no conviction either.
You need both the emotional and logical levels in the Main Character to finally come match each other, to say the same thing to the Soul. That moment, when mind and emotion come to the same conclusion for the first time, is the resolution of the Internal Conflict, and thus the end of the Story. The Plot should end on the same page.
Here is an article indicating how observation of human behavior has fairly well penetrated the fog and revealed exactly how life works.
Your readers know all this, whether they've read this article or not, so use that knowledge to convince them your Characters are real people -- because your Characters succumb to persuasion just like real people do.
Reviews of a novel will complain of cardboard characters or thin plotting - but the actual problem from the writer's point of view is that the story is not related to the plot in a form, method, or manner that the reader can recognize as real. Pacing is all about revealing, explaining and arguing for your worldbuilding element that delineates the relationship between people and their lives. "What does she see in him?" "What does he see in her?" "What did she do to deserve this?" "What did he do to deserve meeting her?"
The answers to those questions have to be derived consistently, precisely, and absolutely from the Theme in order to convince readers to suspend disbelief and enter your fantasy world, take a spin in your flying saucer.
And don't forget con-artists do this all the time, artfully. A con artist Character makes a great foil for a Hero.