Submitted by Potential_Crisis t3_zusnhj in books

I've cleared out my nostalgic older books, and have started picking up new titles. I noticed that new books seem to be way faster and rushed than older books. Characters aren't given enough time to develop, plot points seem to be squished in without any integration or foreshadowing, and it's like the author is running a marathon in writing. The most recent decently paced book I've found was written in 2003. It might be that Im a faster reader than I was as a kid, or maybe reading older books means they withstood the test of time and are better quality.

Is anyone else experiencing this? If so, why does this happen?



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gnatsaredancing t1_j1ldsmx wrote

>Is anyone else experiencing this? If so, why does this happen?

Because times have changed. A lot of older books were written for people who lived slower lives. For a lot of them, books were the only look at the greater world they got. So far more time was spend on explanations, descriptions of people, objects, locations and so on.

People today are use to being a high speed information sponge that never turns off. You'd bore them with descriptions like that.

Along the same lines, a lot of 19th and early 20th century novels were written as serialised content for magazines. The writers intentionally padded it to keep their pay check going.


ilikedirt t1_j1mcraq wrote

The serialised content part made so much sense when I finally realized 😆


dragon-snapple-01 t1_j1n8nbr wrote

This. I notice the same thing with TV shows & movies. These days, scene cuts are used to keep it moving and ads are built to catch attention in a short time span. Books are not immune to this effect.


nandos1234 t1_j1lmyuu wrote

Depends on what you read. I read more literary fiction rather than genre and haven’t found a big difference in pacing tbh


tallandazn t1_j1l8lxe wrote

i think the social media has also shaped how we interact with other forms of media. considering we can access lots more information now than ever before there's a need for everything to be instantenous. i notice pretty terrible characterization in anything YA (haven't thought about new books vs. old books) myself. that being said I wouldn't go as far as to say our quality of writing has decreased or anything but i do notice there's a lot more options to sift through these days and loads of them are pretty mediocre. more power to writers though :)


pretenditscherrylube t1_j1m6sdp wrote

Lots of books 50 years ago were mediocre. We just don’t read them anymore


tallandazn t1_j1n2j9b wrote

oh yeah, time does the sifting for us on that regard


pretenditscherrylube t1_j1n40ny wrote

I have no problem reading contemporary books, even though quality isn’t as easily discernible. It’s because I love the process of discovering if a book will be good or bad. When I read a classic, there isn’t the same process of discovery as it is with a new novel. It’s more searching about why that book is good, but I really prefer the wider range of reading experiences, where I can decide if a book is good or bad or overrated or misunderstood. I also like books with modern morals.


Potential_Crisis OP t1_j1nu8i4 wrote

yeah, this is what I was thinking. Any old books I read now have survived this long only because they are well written, so poorly paced new books haven't had enough time to be weeded out.


tolkienfan2759 t1_j1lxjdr wrote

PACING. Yes. This is one of the main reasons Dracula, by Bram Stoker, is still a masterpiece - pacing. He knew what he had was worth the wait, and he kept a slow and steady beat till you got to the end. He was right. It was wonderful. Novels these days are just crack-addicted. Well, they're in competition with TV and social media. Real life isn't enough for people any more. The evening I was walking with a friend, thought we were having a conversation, looked around and found her deep in her phone... to me, that was the moment.


Potential_Crisis OP t1_j1nufso wrote

is there any way to recover? authors can't afford to make slow paced books if only a handful of people read them. And social media isn't going away anytime either.


tolkienfan2759 t1_j1psvcv wrote

not a problem I have ever had any kind of solution to, sorry. I do think the popularity of this sub, among other things, indicates the problem isn't as bad as maybe I made it sound.


baddspellar t1_j1m52nv wrote

I don't think this is a valid generalization at all. There are plenty of new books with strong character development and older books without it. You're just reading the wrong books.


Potential_Crisis OP t1_j1nur4u wrote

have any good new book recs?

book-tok hasn't been fruitful, and even literary magazines aren't promising.


baddspellar t1_j1nzjwp wrote

Sure. Here are some books off the top of my head:

These two were on the 2022 booker long list

Small Things Like These, by Claire Keegan

Trust, by Hernan Diaz

This was a stunning debut in the Historical Fiction genra

Black Cake, by Charmaine Wilkerson

Here's a science fiction book that was unusually character driven

Sea of Tranquility, by Emily St John Mandel

Then there's this, which is pretty much all character development

A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles


degotoga t1_j1m6u1z wrote

This is a massive generalization. I can assure you that slow paced books are still being written. What genres are you interested in?


Potential_Crisis OP t1_j1nuwas wrote

Fantasy and sci-fi. Maybe this pacing trend is particularly strong in these genres, so it's a generalisation.


degotoga t1_j1ny50w wrote

What’s a good example of pacing?


Potential_Crisis OP t1_j1o7o18 wrote

Between the King Killer Chronicles and Lord of the Rings is ideal. But even then its personal preference


Starstuffi t1_j1lcbcq wrote

I agree that the pace of information and its depth in media in the last ~5 ish years in particular seem altered. More seems to happen, more characters are present, less time and detail is spent anywhere in particular. For someone like myself who has increasingly left short attention span entertainment (Reddit, as you can see, is my one scrolling vice I succumb to for a few days every few weeks), it's very noticeable. I am not trained to process that much info, or to not want more than a few words on something, before moving on. It feels weird; I suppose it's a sort of communication culture shock to try and experience recently released books, movies, and shows in many cases.


HamletAndRye t1_j1lyh05 wrote

Are you reading books for adults, though? Or, like, YA stuff?


Potential_Crisis OP t1_j1nukxy wrote

Inbetween. I've noticed that adult books tend to be really inconsistently paced, while YA is just rushed in general.


Jenniferinfl t1_j1ni9l1 wrote

Eh, read the award shortlisted books, Pulitzer, Booker, National Book and so on. A lot of those have slower pacing.


Zikoris t1_j1mw1eb wrote

I think it really depends on what type of book it is. I haven't read anything truly ancient, but for example I don't find the early Agatha Christie books from the 20s to be slow paced, or Isaac Asimov books from the 50s. I do find most old fantasy to be AGONIZINGLY slow to the point of unreadability.


Potential_Crisis OP t1_j1nv6lo wrote

Its not that they are particularly slow, just slow relative to new books. New sci-fi and murder mystery seems overly dramatic and chaotic compared to the writing of Asimov and Agatha Christie.


Zikoris t1_j1nwig9 wrote

I read a fair bit of modern sci-fi and mysteries and don't find that, though honestly I don't feel like I read enough older books to really compare.


pineapplesf t1_j1mw7j7 wrote

I feel like a lot of contemporary writers and editors fundamentally misunderstand the core concepts of writing in general and for their genre.

ETA; I suspect it hasn't actually changed but the books/authors that understand the logic of books are likely going to still be reread in 50 years. Especially over a book that fumbled it's way through. Survivors bias and all that.


Luziadovalongo t1_j1o9rlj wrote

Exactly. I also feel like many new writers, especially those on electronic only outlets, are not readers so they don’t necessarily know how to do it.


CallynDS t1_j1nxvr2 wrote

I'm currently reading Grey Lensman, a pulp SF serial from the late thirties. The pacing is miserable, everything goes too fast and the characters either barely exist, are paragons of virtue or are completely evil, no in between. I'm reading it more because it was influential than because I enjoy it even though it does have it's moments.

Compare that to a book I read earlier this year, A Memory Called Empire, published in 2019 which had brilliant pacing great characters and character development and a great plot.

You're just not picking good recent books and are picking good old books. It's not a trend in modern writing, just bad luck on your part.


PoetryPogrom t1_j1noqfi wrote

I think pacing is the same, but language use and the sheer amount of descriptions are very different. The Victorians could write ten pages describing a room or a chair. Modern readers don't generally have the patience for that. I think it has to do with our access to digital media. Then there's the fact that mass media has popularized more limited vocabulary. I haven't needed to use a dictionary reading modern fiction whereas I have my phone on me when I read someone like Nathaniel Hawthorne.


covestar38 t1_j1nryoj wrote

I just started reading Orhan Pamuk's latest: "Nights of Plague". The pace is noticeably faster and descriptions shorter with fewer digressions than his prior books that I've read: "Red" and "Snow". I prefer the prior style, probably because of my age (84) and what I've become accustomed to. Withal I am enjoying "Nights..." and will finish it.


Arrow_from_Artemis t1_j1utkjy wrote

This post made me realize how long it's been since I've read a well paced book. I think the genre determines pacing a lot of times. YA/Children for example have a tendency to be faster paced to keep the attention of their readers. Slow burns are more common in Fantasy/Sci Fi, and you'll get some slower paced books in really angsty romances sometimes too.

Out of curiosity, what genre do you read in?


Farrell-Mars t1_j1mbo2h wrote

In a new book, you are required to have earth-shaking drama either happening or strongly foreshadowed in the first or second paragraph. Otherwise it’s “slow” and “confusing”.

Same with the much-overused “show don’t tell”. Nothing is explained. You’re just supposed to guess what’s going on by “watching”.



kuahara t1_j1l91tq wrote

I am currently making my way through the complete works of Brandon Sanderson and have not noticed this.

His writing feels flawless.


Y_Brennan t1_j1lak9b wrote

I only started reading Elantris which was a rare dnf for me. Terrible writing and bland uninteresting characters is what broke me. He is my brother's favourite author so he is probably good but Elantris was just really really bad


azariah19 t1_j1mo8eo wrote

Yeah. I feel a similar way with you about Elantris. I say give the first bit of The Way of Kings a try. Elantris was his first published novel... And it shows. But he does gain quite a bit of experience and his writing vastly improves.


kuahara t1_j1lb3lq wrote

I am half way through Elantris now and enjoying it.

The Way of Kings is fantastic.

The first Mistborn trilogy is also really good.

I have not finished Stormlight Archive yet. I loved WoK so much that I wanted to go back and read everything he wrote up to that point before continuing.

Maybe start with Mistborn, Final Empire. Plenty of great character development there and a very well thought out, very good story.

Remember that Elantris is his first book ever published. Even so, Orson Scott Card gave it quite the endorsement.

His other work are praised by Michael Moorcock, Patrick Rothfuss, and other accomplished writers.

I would not give up on Sanderson. You'll really be missing out.


Y_Brennan t1_j1lbbel wrote

I saw that praise from Card and he is a crazy old man who hasn't written a good book in about 20 years. I'm not giving up yet but I also don't have the time to read Brandon Sanderson it's a little too much. I do like Moorcock but I figured it odd he would praise Sanderson, in my experience Moorcock hates world building and world builders just look at what he thinks about Tolkien. Which is why I disregard his opinions on other authors, while I like his work I don't agree with his criticism.