I Was Told My Story Is Slow-Paced, Now What?

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Beginning Writer's Answer Book

I submitted my manuscript to an editor, and he returned it, saying it was too slow-paced. What is he talking about?

If your story is too slow-paced, you're paying too little attention to action and dialogue that moves the story toward the problem and its resolution. Editors often complain that stories written by beginners don't even start until the second or third chapter of the manuscript (or, with short stories, until halfway through). If the reader must watch the main character wake up, light a cigarette, make coffee, and start breakfast before learning what the story problem is, that is a slow-paced story. Especially with shorter works, the opening scene (as well as every other scene) should be short on exposition and quick to engage the reader and move the story forward.