Slowing a scene can often emphasize an essential moment within a story. Take the scene in the movie Jurassic World when Claire tells Lowery to open Paddock 9 to release the T-Rex. The action slows as Claire stands before the opening gate. The music dims so all we can hear is the T-Rex’s pounding steps. Then, Claire brings the scene back to full speed as she starts running.
In storytelling, we writers can create the same slowing moments with the details and dialogue we add (or don’t add). As Jordan Rosenfeld explains, “Creating tension is as much a function of what you leave out as it is what you put in.”
Sometimes, however, writers unintentionally slow a story too much. When this happens, readers get pulled from the story. They begin to wonder when the action will pick up again. Worse yet, they might get bored, and if they aren’t invested in the story, they may even decide to set it aside.
To prevent this from happening, writers, according to Rosenfeld, should avoid eight mundane elements. Click here to find an excerpt of her book How to Write a Page Turner, which lists these eight elements and provides examples of how to change scenes that leave readers yawning to ones that keep them engaged.
Her advice rings true. When it comes to slowing a scene, we writers should be mindful of what not to do, for the sake of our story and our readers.