Thursday, February 24, 2022

Two tricks to write fiction faster

 How to write faster: Two hacks or tricks to try

ONE—One thing you can do to write faster is make sure when you're at the end your writing session—whether you're stopping for lunch, errands, a ten minute phone call OR for the day—is that a few minutes and write a note to yourself about where you will pick up when you get back to your computer. What's next? Figure it out. And when you figure it out, write it down. You will start the next writing session so-so much faster. No starring at the blank page. You'll know where to go. Go.

TWO—About that getting more words on the page in a short amount of time...If you're like me you fool yourself.  "I wrote for two hours or three hours or four hours today," I might declare to my wife. Right. I wrote but I also checked my email three times and made coffee twice and did a little research I needed to get into the characters and looked something up and listened to a song on Youtube that I'd been wanting to listen to and read an article and played with a dog. YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. It's so easy to get distracted.

So I tried writing down how many words I wrote in a day to keep me honest. That did help a little but I still messed around a lot. I knew I still wasn't doing as many words in a writing session as I should. Many writers, from Joyce Carol Oates to Brandon Sanderson, prolific writers, talk about focus and being able to get into the flow and concentration. I had my moments but the truth was I still allowed myself to mess around too much.

One simple action has cured me. It's INCREASED MY OUTPUT by about 3X. I write down how many words I write in an hour. I take a break between hours if I get to write for several hours (using #1 to keep me in the flow). Every time I want to check my email or whatever distraction I can come up with to avoid writing, I think about how I only have an hour to get out a certain # of words. I make a goal. Right now it's 800 words an hour. It's a small enough time I can keep my flow going and not want to break it by following a distraction. I'm kind of goal oriented so I don't want to fail to reach my goal. If write for three hours, actually write, you can see I'll have somewhere around 2400 words. For me that's a  good day. If I happen to have a five hour day...that's a really excellent day.

Hope this helps.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Character development

 When I feel disconnected from my character what I try to do is get closer. I try to walk into a room through his/her eyes, hear what he/she hears, think what he/she would think. For example, you could write "John walked into the room and saw his girlfriend talking to his worst enemy. She laughed at something he said. John became angry." It gives information but it's kind of boring. If you get closer, sometimes you can find a specificity of details that brings a scene  to life. "John moved into the crowded room, sliding between bodies and voices, coughing because someone blew smoke in his face. Who were these people? He didn't recognize one face. Across the room he finally saw Gwen. She had a drink in her hand. She was smoking. When did she start smoking? She was talking in an animated way, swinging her arm and spilling her drink, making a point to someone. At first, he couldn't see who she was talking to because the people were packed so tight in the small low-ceilinged room he could hardly see about three feet in front of him.  He leaned left and right to catch sight of Gwen again. Then he saw who Gwen was talking to, laughing with. He couldn't believe it. He felt sweat from his brow drip down in his right eye. It stung. Carl Anderson. It was him all right. John started pushing his way through the crowd." 

I am adding details.  But I'm adding them because I'm in that crowded room right there with my narrator. If I was back trying to see him from a distance I'd have a harder time coming up with authentic details. For me, anyway, a close POV narration gives me a better chance at making a scene come to life and making the right choices.