[Writing Prompt] Slow It Down

Stories have settings, characters and action. Great! Easy. Let’s get writing!

A-hem. One of the hard parts of writing is getting the pacing of a story correct. You need to slow things down and speed things up in the right places. It may seem counterintuitive but the place to speed up is often in the set up. Readers don’t need a lot of set up. You (and they) can fill in the details as you go along. Again, oddly enough, the place to slow down can be the moment when you reach the action.

Trained by Hollywood as we are, we tend to think of ‘action’ as fast-paced, the bit where the cars come screeching down the hill, the rocket blasts off, the volcano erupts. But in a story, the ‘action’ is simply ‘the stuff the characters do in an effort to get what they want’.  When your characters start taking action, that might be a flag for you to slow the reader down, tease the moment, with some details, thoughts, frame-by-frame storyboarding of the scene.

The Prompt

Take a moment, right in the heart of the action of your story, and increase the tension by slowing it  wa-a-ay down with granular details.


Some examples:

Take us through every muscle that tenses as the hero prepares to run;

Take us inside a woman’s head for every random thought that flits through it between the words “will you marry me?” and her answer (“Did I leave the iron on? Oh gawd, I cannot believe I thought about that right now. Look, he’s on his knees. He’ll ruin his trousers. Focus, woman! Look at his face. That mole really needs checked out and oh no, this moment has gone on too long. Must answer. Must answer. Should I cry? I don’t think I want to cry, but it seems like the kind of thing I should do. I wish he’d stop staring at me like that…”)

Detail the painstaking preparations the surgical team makes, in silence, before the lifesaving operation.


This might not be the most successful story you ever write, but it’s a worthwhile technique to practice. You might just find a brand new tool to put in your writers’ toolkit.


And when you have written your story, log in and post your success in The Victory Dance group or simply comment on this post and let the congrats come flying in.

3 thoughts on “[Writing Prompt] Slow It Down”

  1. Well done, Cathy. It IS hard to write with Life happening (especially when it is something emotionally consuming), so good for you.

    Why not try a shorter story tomorrow so that you can finish it — or finish one of the ones you started? Finishing is a really useful exercise.

    Keep up the good work (and give the cat a hug)

    1. Things are a little better today so I’m pretty sure I’ll finish my story for today. Haven’t started yet, but will post when I’m through.


  2. Yesterday and today I wrote two stories, so I’m up to date. I didn’t finish either one but stopped at a good place to continue it after the challenge. The first one is a woman with amnesia who doesn’t recognize her husband or daughter. It’s sort of a late prompt for the time concept you put up a day or so earlier but I couldn’t think of anything then.

    The one I started today is a picture prompt of a dilapidated bus that had gone missing for twenty four hours. It was new and clean and occupied when it had left the school, Oh, it was a school bus. Later it’s found along a narrow country road looking like it had been in an accident and set on fire but didn’t burn, just looked black. It was unoccupied when found.

    I posted the picture in Word and started the story but will come back later as I have a terminally ill cat here I’m trying to tend to. It’s hard to get in the mood to write when this happens but so far I’ve forced myself and am keeping up. I just don’t have as many finished as I did in May, but they’re stories I can work on later which is great too.

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