Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Writing Faster

If there's one thing a writer always wants to do - it's to write faster.


Because the faster a writer writes, the more stories can be published, and the more cha-ching ends up in the pocket.

But also because writing is hard.
It really is.
Creating anything takes effort.
It's so much easier to consume than to create.
It's easy to read a book - writing one is hard.
It's easy to sit and watch a movie - but writing a screenplay is not.
Consumption is easy.
Creation is very difficult.

So, even though I love writing, it is still difficult.

So, if I can figure out a way to write faster and get more accomplished in a shorter amount of time, I am all for it.

You may have heard of plotters vs. pantsers.
If not, I'll quickly explain.
A plotter is a writer who likes to do some sort of outlining before commencing with writing a story. The depth and breadth of the outline may vary, but at the very least, a plotter will have something down on paper to serve as a framework for the rest of their story.

A pantser is someone who writes "by the seat of their pants." They tend not to outline, but to let the story flow and take them wherever they want to go.

I used to be a pantser.
Then, I used to start out as a pantser who became a plotter when I got stuck and had to come up for some sort of synopsis for the rest of the story.

Now, I am a complete and absolute plotter.
And I love it.
I write so much faster this way.

It takes time to plot, that's true.
But, once I have created an outline for the story, I am able to write it out so much more quickly than I could when I left the story up to just happen on its own.

I'm sure there are pantsers who can write quickly.
I am just not one of them.

Over the last couple of days I tried something new to see if it would help me to write even more quickly.
I was well into the first chapter when I decided to stop writing all exposition, and write only dialogue. No "he said" or "she said"'s even. Just dialogue.

I have to tell you, this experiment was AWESOME.
I loved it!
In one afternoon I was able to write out all the dialogue I could foresee happening, and I was able to crank out several thousand words without a hitch. That's big news for me. I'm sometimes lucky to get several thousand words in a week.

I'll admit that I am very much a plot-driven author. Characterization is very difficult for me. In fact, it's not usually until I'm halfway through a story that I have a good sense of who the characters are. But, I always know what I want to have happen to the characters, and I have a good sense of how I want them to speak.

So, relying on just dialogue really helped me to flesh out my characters this afternoon and get to know them even more quickly as I wrote out their words.

Again, this was AWESOME.

I tried to imagine the story as a movie in my head, and in a movie there is nothing but dialogue. Screenplays are 95% dialogue because that's all there is. There are very few movies with voiceovers to get inside the character's heads (and those that have it probably shouldn't). Instead, it's what the character says and how they say it that helps the audience know who they are, what they want, what their problems are, and the type of people they become.

So, if you're looking to write a little faster, even if you're not a plotter like me, may I suggest this:
Sit back and imagine your story in your head just as if you're watching a movie.
Don't describe anything.
Don't worry about the setting.
Or the mood.
Or laying out the scene.
Just pay attention to what your characters say. Write that down. Only that.

Then, when you're done with a chapter, or even the whole story, go back and fill in. See if it helps you to get to know your characters faster, outline the plot of your story quicker, and ultimately - write a whole heck of a lot faster, too!

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