I’m working on a series on pacing. You can see other posts in the series here.
Dear engineer types,
I am a poet type. So I’m borrowing the metaphor from my spouse, who works in IT and does woodworking.
Let’s agree to look at pacing as a woodworking project. We start with our raw materials, which are words. What kind of words are they? Words are like the type of wood you’re using. Short blunt words are like pine, reliable and cheap. Sesquipedalian verbiage is like a veneer of mahogany, thin and fragile, but it definitely classes up a project.
Let’s say phrase length is like the thickness of the wood, and sentence length is its length and width. Let’s say punctuation is how you attach your pieces of wood together–commas, periods, semicolons, dashes. Without punctuation it is impossible to sort out any kind of clarity in a sentence paragraph scene story
Paragraph length is, let’s say, how you put the pattern of joints together. Are your joints heavy and reinforced, like a set of bunkbeds for a pair of eight-year-old twin boys, or are they delicately balanced, like a Louis XIV table,
with its thin and spindly legs?
Point being, you have to consider both the materials that you’re working with and who is eventually going to be using them and for what, right? You have to pick the right wood, the right pieces of wood, the right methods of attaching them, the right design, etc.
At every level, your choices must fit the project.
That’s what pacing is. You learn pacing when you stop banging together whatever wood is cheapest with whatever nails you have on hand and going, “Why is my table so cheap and unprofessional looking?”
Welcome to Intermediate Writing!
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