Pacing is an odd aspect of writing. There must be a sense of timing (similar to comic timing) that a writer explores. The story has to be not only quick, but also satisfying. Those two things can be at opposition if the scene requires description and details, but the characters goals are still far away.
Today I cut an entire scene out of my story. It was a cute scene, but it did not add to the arc of my story. It only cluttered the pacing of what I needed to accomplish, so I cut away at it. Often I do this or I might rearrange the order of the scenes, like puzzle pieces, finding a way to make them fit.
If you ever wrote an academic essay, think about the way you find your thesis and topic sentences. The rough draft is all gut instinct. The final draft, though, might need to be polished and reordered. It is not about the plotter vs. the pantser, although one might revise more than another. It is about pieces of a novel vs. the entire novel. Even the most fabulous scene can be cut if it distracts from the whole.
To put this another way, if I’m lost and desperate in the deep woods, looking for my way home, I won’t stop to pick some flowers and make a hair decoration.
Pacing is about figuring out timing +necessity. However there is also a magical quality that enters the formula, and this is where it can be tricky. Because in any good scene, the readers need to have gone through it with the character and have the “feels” from the experience. The scene has to emotionally fulfilling. Yet it cannot take so long that readers get impatient. That is why timing is key to so much of good writing. When I googled the topic, I was disappointed how few articles I found on pacing in creative writing, especially in romances. It would be a terrific panel discussion. Maybe it is not often discussed because it has that magical, murky quality?
I’m definitely going to ponder the topic more! In the meantime, it is back to my WIP and my red pen.