One of the points on my checklist when editing an article, blog or email is getting the pace of it right. I’m talking about the article flow: is it laboured or too direct? Most of the time we will want it well balanced.
It’s important to get right because if the pace is too slow the reader will get bored and move on to something else. A quick pace, on the other hand, might sacrifice engaging detail or tone. There may, however, on occasion be call for your article flow to slant one way or the other.
Let’s take a look at what we can do with an article to slow it down or speed it up.
Tips for when the pacing of your writing is too quick
So you’ve got all the main points covered, but your article still feels a bit bare-bones. In this instance, the pace of your article may be too quick. How do you go about adding more information without resorting to rambling or writing something for the sake of it?
To slow the pace down you might share an anecdote, statistic, thought-provoking question, quote or even short story.
Any of these elements done well can add interest and context, keeping the reader engaged by enriching the subject matter. They can also be a great way to open a piece of writing by hooking the reader in with that all-important first sentence.
The founder of a company I used to work for had a captivating knack of doing this in his writing. In one instance drawing an analogy of his apprehension when a favourite restaurant gained a Michelin Star – would it mean that they would become over-popular or complacent and lose their magic touch? He was actually writing about investments not dining, but in two or three lines he had made his point perfectly about how someone handles success, with a splash of colour and an easily relatable story.
Tips for when the pacing is too slow
The opposite can be true too. So be wary of veering on too much of a tangent or labouring a point. If you feel the pace is getting bogged down, you might consider cutting out a point. Or you could keep it but change the language to make the point more quickly. Or consider shortening the passage or finding a different way of making the point entirely. Being tough on yourself when editing your own work is one of the biggest tips I can share.
Don’t forget that in our Internet age, attention spans are ever shrinking. So we have to work harder to hold a reader’s attention. Increased detail does not equate to increased interest so often it’s sufficient to briefly mention a point before moving on. Every word, phrase and sentence counts.
This also applies to statistics. Throwing in a startling fact can be effective for illustrating a point, but too much and it just becomes boring. While nitty-gritty numbers may be of interest to you, many readers just want an overall ‘sense’ of something and will scan past the maths.
Article flow and length of articles
How much does the length of your article have to do with its pace? Well, not much actually. Your article might be 2,000 plus words long, but if it keeps the reader scrolling down to the end, you’ve probably mastered the pace. The same goes for short blogs, even a 200 word mini-article might lag if its content is tedious or the expression dull.
Two more pacing tips: punctuation and subheadings
Finally, it’s not just the words on the page that impact the pacing of an article. Punctuation naturally causes the reader to pause, as do subheadings. Bullet points also have a similar function. Considered use of these elements can adjust the pace.
Need help with your article flow?
Some people have a knack for pacing articles and for others it takes practice. But getting it right is vital to ensure the balance between being directly useful and engaging in our writing.
If you would like a hand with your pacing, talk to us about our editing service at On Point on 0117 244 0116.