When I read classic literature, I'm almost always surprised by how unusual those books are. I go in expecting some sort of conservative, traditional work only to find that the classic writers typically use many more techniques than I do. I'm reading Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter now, and one thing that really sticks out is how unusual his pacing is.
Most of the books I've read lately preserve a certain pace as we hop from one chapter to another. The chapter breaks serve to break up scenes, but the story tends to move at the same speed from beginning to end. (I know that's how I've written my previous books too.) But in The Scarlet Letter Hawthorne will have one chapter describing a specific scene, such as Hester Prynne emerging from prison in the beginning, followed by another chapter that has no movement at all, such as a discussion of what sort of mind games two of the male characters are playing with one another, followed by another chapter that covers four years in a few paragraphs.
Hawthorne seems to be focused on getting out the information for the story rather than preserving momentum. If he needs to jump out of the movement of the story to explain something, he'll do it. Then, if nothing really happens for a few years, he'll simply skip those years.
I find his technique to be very clean, as if Hawthorne really valued a reader's time. I trust that each scene I do read will be important in my understanding of the entire story. The technique makes for a concise book, and I'm enjoying it as I approach the end.
Do you vary your pacing in your stories? How do you find that working for you and for your readers?