The question that begins an encounter might be something like “will the party get past these marauding orcs alive?” Or it might be something like “which members of the Lord’s Alliance, if any, are willing to commit forces to combatting this month’s apocalypse?” The former is a wilderness encounter, the latter is a council meeting, but both of them begin with a question. Likewise, both of them end as soon as possible, as soon as the question is answered. In screenwriting they call this principle “in late, out early,” and it applies to most kinds of fiction, including role playing. Pace is greatly improved when you start a scene at the moment it becomes interesting, and end it at the moment the conclusion is obvious. If it’s become clear that the orcs are going to lose, or if it’s become clear which members of the Alliance are going to help the party’s cause, it’s time to wrap up, even if the orcs have some hit points left or there’s still some formalities to go through before the Alliance’s support is official.