How to be a speed writer.

Everyone keeps asking me how I write my fifty-five-million drafts and polish my final manuscript in less than three months. Yes, I said less than three months. A lot of my twitter followers have been asking me how on earth do I bust out 30k words in four days. Well, I’m about to share my secret with you. But remember, this post isn’t about how to make your life as an author easier and how to write that best seller in three months. I’m still on the road to publishing too. It’s about hard work and dedication. That’s what will bring your dream to life. It could take a year, or it could take ten years. But if you’re as determined as I am, you’ll get there. As long as you write or read every day. I just hope, for your sake, you have an ounce more patience than me.

If you’re lazy or want to be a successful author simply because you had a really cool idea and want to just pour it out onto paper, close this browser right now. Seriously. Writing is not just about having a super cool and unique idea because there are a gazillion people on this planet. I don’t care what your parents or nana told you. Everyone is unique. Not just you. Basically, I’m saying that a cool idea is nothing without commitment, dedication, hard work, self-control, and very little sleep. If you’re a parent, you’re already one step closer because that requires all the same qualities. If you’re not a parent, well, you don’t have an excuse either because you have a little more of the one thing everyone’s lives revolve around. Time.

I’m a mother of two; ages two and one. Yes, they were both planned. Being a parent requires so much sacrifice, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t be a little selfish and have this one thing. Because at the end of the day, it’s for them too. Imagine how proud they’ll be someday when someone asks them if their mom or dad is the author of The Chronicles of Cutie Patootie.

So, here’s what I do. I’m a plotter. If you don’t know what that is, google it. I get that cool idea from seeing a silly decoration on Halloween or having a weird dream. Or in this case, the example I’m using in this piece I just made up two seconds ago. See, not that hard to get an idea. But this is where the self-control comes in. This is where I have to fight every temptation in me to not open WORD and start typing. That’s the most fun part but it doesn’t work for me. All those fun ideas that pop randomly into my head are not so great when I’m in the middle of a project. They tend to leak into a plot where they don’t belong if I don’t plan out my novel. That tends to cause plot holes. So, if you’re not a plotter, sorry I wasted your time and didn’t open with that line. If you are one or would like to give it a try, here’s what I do:

Plot:

I have my idea. Let’s say the story is about an 18-year-old boy, Michael, who dreams about being an author like his deceased father. One day, he walks into the old and dusty library he inherited from his dad. He pulls out a book and suddenly a secret door opens. All of his father’s novels are inside that secret room. He pulls out a book and gets pulled into that world. It can go two ways from here: Michael can either be adventurous and start traveling the world in the pages of the books his father wrote, or he can be a romantic like me and go with the following idea. Michael now really wants to meet the hot girl on the cover of another book his dad wrote. Then he accidentally falls in love with this girl who’s supposed to get her happy ending with another fictional character. But it’s already too late. He stayed too long and now can’t go back. The story was written for this girl. Let’s call her Gertrude because his dad wrote historical fiction. He can’t go back but he can’t have Gertrude either. He’s stuck in a world that smells like compost and doesn’t even have frickin’ twitter. What’s the point about this life if he can’t tweet about it? Yes, he’s a little superficial. Even the main character has flaws. So, he ends up writing his own book in this stupid novel he’s stuck inside of and gives himself a happy ending with Gertrude. Michael tries to stop Gertrude’s wedding but then gets thrown in jail because her finacé is a jerk-face snob. Gertrude says she needs a break and leaves the church, only to find Michael is gone already. Michael then rewrites the ending to his dad’s book about how he went back in time to marry Gertrude. That happens after he decides to give up superficial things for love, and ends up back in the book. Yay.

Character goals:

Now, only after coming up with that idea, I got to know my characters and decided what I want their goals to be. Michael’s goal is to be a writer because even as superficial as he is, he wants to change lives and wasn’t smart enough to be a doctor. But he has a hidden goal too that he’s not aware of. Why does he really want to be a writer? Big reveal!!! To give himself the happy ending his mom didn’t get with her husband dying so young. He achieves that goal of having his happily ever after with Gertrude. Because when a novel ends, the lives of the characters stay frozen. They will stay alive and together forever. Unless some other idiot rewrites his book, because let’s face it, that bonnet hat just has the men on their knees for Gertrude. And talk about backstabbing. Now his dad’s novel doesn’t make sense, but whatever. Let’s not ruin the moment.

Characteristics:

Now, during my rough version of a synopsis, I learned that I want Michael to be a bit superficial. But maybe he just acts that way because it beats dealing with his grief. He’s a writer. Naturally, he’s deep. He’s also forward and speaks his mind. This is where I start doing some research about the strengths and weaknesses of people. Each of his major characteristics gets assigned to a chapter, to reveal more about him. If you love a character-driven plot, then this is a great way to move the plot along. Once I’m done with Michael, I give Gertrude her personality. She’s soft-spoken, and in her era, she’s used to not standing up to men and speaking her mind. But Michael’s cockiness makes her speak up because he irritates her in a sexy-kneecap-wobble kind of way. He adores it. I love the idea of “opposites attracts”. I’m living proof of it. This is also where I do my research on what qualities clash with Michael’s characteristics. That gives me more material to work with and I use that for when they fight. Obviously, they have to fight because making up is the best part.

Chapter outline:

Now that I have the personalities and plot figured out, I work off the next template. As I plan out my chapters, I also do my research. Because let’s face it, there’s nothing more frustrating when you’re on a roll, then having to stop and google what the heck woman wore for underwear in the 1800s.

Chapter one:

Introduce Michael and his goal. He could think of it while wandering through the library.

One conflict – his twitter addiction prevents him from writing. It’s a distraction and his hands are too tired by the time he wants to write for real.

Chapter two:

Motivating incident

His girlfriend cancels dinner plans with him and he decides to hang out in the library. I know, I didn’t mention his girlfriend before, but hey, even plotters can make changes as they go.

Introduce 2nd MC – he brushes his finger over the cover of the book that has Gertrude on the front with a bonnet hat. He thinks she’s the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen. But it looks like a boring book, so he puts it down and opens another one.

Holy crap, why is he in the middle of a war zone?

Chapter three:

By the end, Michael reaches his first turning point.

Okay, he got out of the war zone safely and is back in the library. He’s motivated to write now as he realizes it can actually change lives. He deletes twitter (Idiot move for a writer, but no one said Michael was smart). He decides to take writing seriously. he starts writing his first draft. But he keeps getting distracted thinking about the girl on the cover of the book.

Chapter four:

Reaction/decision.

Woop-dee-doo! Michael is halfway through his first draft. Unfortunately, he didn’t use my template, so now writers’ block got to him. Hello, villain. He decides to go into the secret room because he’s curious if he can meet the pretty girl with the ugly hat.

Chapter five

2nd event. Advance scenes

Michael sits under an apple tree watching people walk to church in gowns and suits in the heat of the day while he reads the book he’s inside of. He starts falling for Gertrude as he gets to know her in the book. Then the beautiful girl walks by hand in hand with the second main character of his father’s book. Michael gets jealous. He also wonders why this guy with her has blonde hair but the guy in the book has brown hair. (Don’t make that too obvious.)

Chapter six

Lay groundwork. Explore.

Michael follows Gertrude and her acquaintance. He pretends to run into Gertrude at church. Says he’s new in town. She invites him back to their home for fresh bread and veggie soup. Ew, Michael hates soup but his trying to court this girl, so whatever.

Chapter seven:

Exploration. Things get more intense.

Michael has lunch with Gertrude’s family. Charles, Gertrude’s fiancé, doesn’t appear to be as cute as Michale’s dad wrote him to be. But I don’t blame Charles. Michael is sexy as hell and a huge threat. Charles keeps grilling him about the strange trousers (jeans) he’s wearing.

And suddenly!!!!! Michael’s phone rings in his pocket. All eyes are on him.

Chapter Eight:

More exploring/problem

Michael tells them his from the city where they have new technology. They’re gullible enough to believe him and get all riled up over iPhones that’ll soon come to their town soon. They plan to have a ball over it. Just as Michael feels as though he can relax, Charles mentions he and Gertrude are getting married the next weekend.

Chapter Nine:

Gets bad

Make sure something important crops up or introduce a new sub-plot.

Michael tells Gertrude she shouldn’t get married. He likes her. He tells her the truth about where he’s from. She tells him he’s crazy but she likes it. Let’s get married, she says. Oh crap! Michael just meant, let’s go for a milkshake and see where this goes.

Chapter Ten:

Gets worse. Use cliffhangers

Gertrude realizes his intentions aren’t pure and sends him home. Michael is like, whatever. He has a girlfriend anyway that he should probably break up with first. But then the portal to the library is closed.

Chapter Eleven:

Mid-point of the book – something new – change of scenery/romance

Michael thinks it’s a sign so he goes back to Gertrude with his tail between his legs. She’s bathing in her weird old-fashioned underwear in a dirty bucket of cold water. She looks absolutely beautiful. Even though makeup doesn’t exist yet, she’s wearing it because whoever decides to make this movie can’t have a girl look all natural while bathing. She freaks out and covers herself up but Michael doesn’s see the problem because girls in his era tan naked on the beach. So, he walks up to her and kisses her passionately — on the lips of all places! She’s stunned and thinks he’s way too forward. She slaps him even though she enjoyed it. But Gertrude is stubborn like that.

Chapter Twelve:

Gets worse. Add conflict. Bring out a flaw.

Michael is superficial, right… so, now he tries to buy her love. Promises her about how he would spoil her in his world. Tells her of all the wonderful things they have there and how she’ll get to bathe more than once a week. She tells him he can’t buy her love.

Chapter Thirteen:

Gets even worse. Advance scenes – build into realization scene of the next chapter.

Michael gets a new idea. He starts a novella about him and Gertrude. But it’s really plagiarism because he’s practically stealing his dad’s story and just summarizing it with an ending he likes more. He picks up some things about the second main character in the book that doesn’t quite seem like Charles.

Chapter Fourteen:

Realization scene – tie together breadcrumbs left in earlier chapters

As Michael writes his story with Gertrude, he realizes that Charles doesn’t sound at all like the guy in the book. He skips to the end of his dad’s book and the ending says she ends up with Micael but his name isn’t Michael in the book. He realizes he was the deuteragonist all along. But now, how will he convince Gertrude? And does he have to change his name to Charles?

Chapter Fifteen:

The reader must believe the main character has no way out.

Michael goes to stop their wedding but Charles has him thrown in jail.

Chapter Sixteen:

Make it bigger

Michael wants to rewrite their story in the jail cell but no one would give him paper and a pen. He realizes he lost his dad’s book on his way to jail. He wants to read how he got out of jail.

Chapter seventeen:

Flips the tory into climax and resolution.

Michael escapes from jail but as he runs to the chapel, he runs through the portal and crashes into the bookshelf in the library.

Chapter Eighteen:

Decision Climax

Michael stands in the library and searches for the book everywhere. Finally, he finds it and on the second last page, Gertrude asks him if he would leave all the luxury from the advanced city where he lives just for her. He doesn’t remember reading that part last time and wonders if there’s another version of this book on her side. A tear falls onto the pages (Yes, boys cry too). The words start swimming on the pages and he sees her face within the words.

Chapter Nineteen:

Resolution

Michael is torn between right and wrong, good and evil.

Surprise. Michael’s girlfriend shows up. Don’t we just hate her? Even though we don’t know anything about her. Crap, he forgot he already had one of those. She tells him how cool he is that he got a hundred more followers today on twitter. He tells her he deleted the app and she pouts saying as long as he doesn’t have twitter, their whole relationship is basically a lie. He realizes he would give up anything in this modern world to be with Gertrude. He breaks up with his girlfriend. He leaves but then comes back and tells her she needs to leave because it’s his library. He sits down and answers Gertrude in the pages of his dad’s book. They communicate like that.

Chapter Twenty:

Reward/tie-up

Well, obviously he went back to her world, they marry and have nine babies.

Epilogue 

The late lamb arrives/ baby number ten.

He changes his name to Charles.

No, it’s still not time to write. Once I have all this figured out, I take that chapter outline and plan it in even more detail. Give each chapter a couple of bullet points to work with. I do all my research too so that I have no interruptions of googling corsets or towns. Or “how long does it take someone to bleed to death” seems to be a popular one.
Then the real fun begins. I write nonstop until that book is done. At the moment I write about 8k words a day. That’s only during my kids’ nap time and another two hours in the early mornings. Yay for #5amwritersclub
It’s possible, writers. You can have a polished and beta read manuscript in three months. But you better be ready to commit and dedicate ALL of your free time to it. I love and truly enjoy writing, but it doesn’t mean that some nights I wouldn’t rather watch a show and relax. Especially when it comes to plotting. It’s the part I enjoy least about writing but it makes the actual writing so much more fun for me personally. The plotting takes me about a week since I do most of the research too. Of course, as you write you’d have to keep doing research sometimes or google synonyms, etc. But taking a week of decent plotting really has cut my writing time in half because I don’t get pulled out of the zone constantly to do research. Now, this might not be ideal for everyone. We all work at a different pace and use different strategies. This works for me because generally, I’m a very organized person. I just put this plot together in one hour. Obviously, this isn’t a decent book idea or plot, but it gives you an idea of what you can get done in such a short time if you put your mind to it.
Happy writing #writerscommunity 

   ♥

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5 thoughts on “How to be a speed writer.

  1. I really enjoyed this article. I read every word. I think a lot of writers get there different ways, but I agree 100% that you can’t watch tv, play on the internet, relax, go out with friends and still get a manuscript done in a short period of time. Dedication! Good read. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really enjoyed reading this and I find it useful as well. I do think that I am a plotter, but I never knew to do it that detailed and I will certainly give it a try. Thanks so much!

    Like

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