Rhythm and Pace
by Afizawati Ayub
Imagine a group of kid playing musical chair during birthday party. Moving in circle around the chairs to the beat of Kitaro’s hit song, Matsuri, from slow to fast tempo. It was as exciting and fun as the heart beat to the rhythm. Using music analogy, this demonstrates rhythm and accentuates varying pace.
Similarly, rhythm helps to create a visual mood and leading much to reader’s imagination. Visual mood can be strengthened further by the use of pace. Thus, keeps the reader paying attention and longing for more.
Choosing a right word is one way to produce a compelling story. For instance, the usage of short and rolling verbs and action verbs create a fast moving feeling. Slow and melancholic feeling inspired by using amble verbs.
Length of the sentence also plays a crucial role in science writing. Short sentences can be use to introduce new subject and excellent for emphasize important point, whilst long sentences great in elaborating the point. Some readers seem difficult to follow with long sentence but if it is properly constructed, it may be easier to read than short ones. By mixing up the sentences, a short sentence, long sentence and again short sentence can let readers experience variety in rhythm. Punctuation marks also help in creating rhythm in writing.
Secondly, write as you speak. Reading the writing aloud using natural rhythm of human speech helps to identify words or phrases that do not sound well.
Another way to add variety to rhythm in writing is by alternating between narrative and summary. For instance, introducing first-person account at beginning then summarize at end by using third person account. Other than that, by alternating between facts, action, third person narration and direct quotations keep the writing more lively and it is kind of rhythm which give the readers a sense of compelling.
The Door Close Button in Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything by James Gleick illustrated the speed of elevator towards humans behavior. From only a yes-no and start-stop transportation, elevator has developed into thirty feet per second travelling compartment (mostly in Japan). Though it is fast enough to start an airplane, people fail to cope with their patience.
Gleick successfully used different rhythm to explained the story. At the beginning, the evolution of elevator was delivered in fast pace motion which represent the idea of elevator as a fast moving object. Then the rhythm was slowing down to describe the human behaviour while waiting for the elevator to arrive. As in his writing,
“Waiting, some stand still, others pace, and another may make small gestures of impatience such as foot tapping, jiggling change in a pocket, scanning at the walls and ceiling with apparent concentration… Men, but hardly ever women, may rock gently back and forth” (Gleick, 2000)
The above stated content brings the readers close to the moment.
Overall, rhythm is not meant only for mysteries, science fictions and fantasy novel but it can be use in all types of writing. Varied rhythm in writing contributes to the smooth flow of motion, gives emphasis to important points and makes for easy reading.
Gleick, J. (2005). Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything. London: Abacus
Kendall-Tackett, K. (2007). Add Variety to the Pace and Rhythm of Your Story. Retrieved from