Remember, you do NOT have to wait for the program to finish a full screen display before entering a command. If you see an interesting spot you want to zoom in on while the screen is half-done, don't wait -- do it! If you think after seeing the first few lines that another video mode would look better, go ahead -- Fractint will shift modes and start the redraw at once. When it finishes a display, it beeps and waits for your next command.
In general, the most interesting areas are the "border" areas where the colors are changing rapidly. Zoom in on them for the best results. The first Mandelbrot-set (default) fractal image has a large, solid-colored interior that is the slowest to display; there's nothing to be seen by zooming there.
Plotting time is directly proportional to the number of pixels in a screen, and hence increases with the resolution of the video mode. You may want to start in a low-resolution mode for quick progress while zooming in, and switch to a higher-resolution mode when things get interesting. Or use the solid guessing mode and pre-empt with a zoom before it finishes. Plotting time also varies with the maximum iteration setting, the fractal type, and your choice of drawing mode. Solid- guessing (the default) is fastest, but it can be wrong: perfectionists will want to use dual-pass mode (its first-pass preview is handy if you might zoom pre-emptively) or single-pass mode.
When you start systematically exploring, you can save time (and hey, every little bit helps -- these "objects" are INFINITE, remember!) by [S]aving your last screen in a session to a file, and then going straight to it the next time by using the command FRACTINT FRACTxxx (the .GIF extension is assumed), or by starting Fractint normally and then using the [R] command to reload the saved file. Or you could hit [B] to create a parameter file entry with the "recipe" for a given image, and next time use the [@] command to re-plot it.