You Can Write Your Story Faster

image by Unsplash
image by Unsplash

Last week, I posted on writing blog content faster. But in some important ways, writing your story faster differs from writing blog content faster. Here are suggestions for writing stories faster.

Before You Write

  1. Ask, “What am I saying to myself?”
  • image by Greyerbaby
    image by Greyerbaby
    Is it something like, “I’ve always edited as I go, because I’m good at editing and enjoy molding each chapter, page, or paragraph until I’m satisfied. This is my comfort zone. I put off writing more of the story, because that’s the more elusive part of writing.”
  • Answer honestly:
    • “When a section is finally the way I want it, have I been away from the story so long that it takes me awhile to get back into the story’s flow?”
    • “How many times have I had to delete or rewrite beautifully edited scenes because of changes I made to the story later?”
  • Don’t give in to thoughts saying you can’t write without editing.
  • Give yourself time to establish a pattern of success.

Suggestions:

  • You already know editing is easier than writing for you, so get a draft done so you have the whole story to attack with your editing skills.
  • Writing fast turns off the internal editor or censor and allows creativity to flow.
  • Writing without editing forces you to stay in the story.
  • Allow your mind to spill out what it knows without you interrupting it to find a better word or fix a typo.
  1. Do the prep work. Writing faster is easy when you know what you want to say. You decide how much detail you need to know to get started. What do you need?

 

image by Hermann
image by Hermann

Suggestions:

  • One-sentence tagline
  • Reader’s takeaway, plot idea, and a hero and heroine
  • Hero’s journey outline
  • Plot cards
  • Scene cards
  • Major turning points
  • Goals, motivations, and conflicts
  • Synopsis
  • Set-up chapters
  1. Put some kind of accountability in place.

     4.  Find your most productive writing time.

Write the Story Faster

     5.  Write as fast as you can.

image by storkman
image by storkman

Suggestions:

  • Lower your standard for the first draft.
  • Don’t allow distractions. Stay focused.
  • Set a timer for a chunk of time and refuse to edit or stop until the time is up.
  • Don’t delete a poor sentence; write another version and go on.
  • Turn off or cover the monitor. If you can’t see errors, you’re less likely to stop and fix them.
  • Don’t’ lose momentum. If you think of a change for a previous chapter, jot a note and keep going.

After the Messy Draft Is Written

  1. Edit your post.

Suggestions:

  • Check the flow (move paragraphs or chapters).
  • Fix typos and misspellings.
  • Make scenes ground the reader immediately.
  • Replace weak nouns and verbs with strong ones.
  • Limit adjectives, adverbs, and unnecessary words.
  • Make dialogue tight, necessary, and interesting.
  • Reverse reactions written before stimuli.
  • Make actions linear.
  • Add color and senses.
  • Change wordy or confusing sentences.
  • Fix inconsistencies.
  • Let it sit and then read it through again.

Suggestions for writing your story faster. Click to tweet.

What other ways help you write your story faster?

You Can Write Blog Content Faster

Remember that writing faster and better is easy to do as long as you know what you want to say. Get a good main idea and the rest will fall into place. — C. M. Smith “How to Write Better and Faster”

 

image by BigbrotherBB
image by BigbrotherBB

Before You Write Content Faster

 

image by johnhain
image by johnhain

1.  Ask, “What am I saying to myself?”

  • If it’s, “I’ll always be a slow writer,” choose the opposite. Say, “I’m able to write faster. With the following suggestions and practice, I will write faster.”
  • Don’t give in to negative thoughts.

 

 

Suggestions:

  • Find your most productive writing time.
  • Give yourself time to establish a pattern of success.
  • Create a focused momentum, purposefully.
  • Put some form of accountability in place.
  • Sit down and move your work forward.
image by ghwtog
image by ghwtog

2.  Choose a focus for the post. Writing faster is easy when you know what you want to say.

 

Suggestions:

  • Ask, “What do I want the reader to take away?”
  • Be able to explain your main idea in one sentence.
  • Ask, “What would I like to know about [main idea, e.g. how to write faster]?”
image by picjumbo
image by picjumbo

3.  Do the prep work.

  • Read magazines and blogs on your subject. Google it.
  • Don’t think you need groundbreaking ideas; just write what you know and have learned about your main idea.

 

Suggestions:

  • Organize your ideas with an outline. Outlines show how sub-ideas work together to explain what you want to say.
  • Try a mind map: brainstorm words or ideas related to your main idea, or organize words and ideas from your research around your main idea.
  • Create a reusable form for your type of posts.

Write Content Faster

 

4.  Keep it short – one tip or one idea.

image by skeeze
image by skeeze

5.  Write as fast as you can.

Suggestions:

  • Lower your standard for the first draft.
  • Get as much written as you can (or more) from what you’ve outlined, without editing it. Writing fast turns off the internal editor or censor and allows creativity to flow.
  • Don’t get in the way. Let your hands do the thinking; give your brain a chance to relate what it knows.
  • Don’t delete a poor sentence; write another version and go on.
  • Don’t allow distractions. Stay focused.
  • Turn off or cover the monitor. If you can’t see errors, you’re less likely to stop and fix them.
  • Don’t stop. If you think of a change for a previous paragraph, jot a note and keep going.

6.  Set time limits.

image by storkman
image by storkman

Suggestions:

  • Set a reasonable project time limit. If you give yourself three days for a post, you’ll most likely take three days to do it. If you give yourself one day, you’ll most likely complete it in one day.
  • During the draft, set a timer for chunks of minutes. Don’t stop typing or writing until the timer goes off. Repeat.

After Content Is Written

 

7.  Edit your post.

Suggestions:

  • Correct typos
  • Add styling (subtitles)
  • Add photos
  • Add links
  • Check the flow (move paragraphs or change words)
  • Read it closely. Write tight.
  • Let it sit. When you return, needed changes will pop up.

Suggestions for writing blog content faster. Click to tweet.

What one suggestion might help you writer your blog content faster?

6 Essentials in Writing Picture Books

picturebooks

Joanne Sher is my guest today. As a dedicated student of writing picture books, Joanne knows the ins and outs of the craft. Enjoy the essentials she shares with us.

Joanne: Many assume writing for children is easier than writing for adults. After all, the word counts are lower, right? And kids can’t understand as much as adults, so you can write simpler – correct?

I have to tell you that, in MY opinion, it is actually MORE difficult. And, as far as writing picture books themselves, it is totally unlike any other form of writing I have encountered. But it is also LOADS of fun.

Welcome to the wonderful world of writing picture books.

Let’s start with a definition. What is a picture book? It is not simply a book with pictures.

A picture book is a book – generally for children – in which the illustrations are as important as (or even more important than) the words in telling the story.

So a picture book is a joint venture. The author tells one part of the story, and the illustrator another. But the catch? As the author, you DON’T get to tell the illustrator (who, unless you are a really good artist, isn’t you) what to do.

picturebooks2Got it? Good. Let’s talk about some things the picture book author needs to keep in mind

1. KEEP IT SHORT:  As a rule, today’s picture book manuscripts are 500 words or less (ideally less). Every word must count, even more than in other types of writing. As one professional (sorry, can NOT remember who it was) said, you must make every word fight for its existence.

2. LEAVE ROOM FOR THE ILLUSTRATOR: Remember my definition up there? You as author are not telling the whole story. Picture books are an interaction between, not only the book and the reader, but the words and the illustrations.

But how do you do this? This is a continual learning process for me. But I can give you my most helpful suggestion.

Save physical descriptions for only the most critical aspects. Anything that an illustrator can show, hair color, height, weather – even whether the character is an animal or a person, should not be in the text, unless it is absolutely critical to the story. Instead, use your words for descriptions of senses that are not “illustratable” – smell, taste, touch, hearing.

3. GRAB THEM FROM THE START: I’m sure you’ve heard that if you don’t grab the reader’s attention in the first chapter (or even the first page) of your novel, you’ve likely lost your reader. Well, your chance to hook the reader for a picture book is even shorter.

If you don’t grab the reader’s attention on the first page (which is often a single sentence, or even shorter), there won’t BE a second page. The book will either get shut, or the kid will tune out. Remember how short preschoolers’ attention spans are. The hook needs to be strong, and it needs to be early.

4. KEEP PAGE TURNS IN MIND: A page turn in a picture book is like a chapter break in a novel. You need something to encourage the reader to move on to the next section. Picture books are generally 32 pages, which means 16 (or less) page turns, and sometimes the copyright and half-title and such are included in that page count.

Not only do you need to give your reader a reason to go on to the next page, but you need to be sure that there are enough things going on to illustrate – enough scenes. You don’t want every illustration to be of the same thing.

5. END IT WITH AH, AWW, OR HA: Multi-published Picture Book Author Linda Ashman came up with this easy-to-remember summary of picture book endings, and the vast majority of picture books do fit into one of these categories.

The Ah! ending is the surprise ending. Aww is the sweet, mushy ending. Finally- the Ha! ending. Ending with humor is almost always a winner. Kids love to laugh, and if you can make the humor for both the child AND adult, you’re on your way.

Which reminds me of my LAST point:

6. REMEMBER, PICTURE BOOKS AREN’T JUST FOR KIDS: If you have (or had) kids, you likely remember reading the same book over and over and OVER to him or her. Picture books, for the most part, are not read by the intended audience – they are read TO them, and more than once.

Have a bit of sympathy for the parent. Try to make the story/pictures/humor enjoyable for parents AND kids. And because they are generally read aloud, be sure your text is as fun to say as it is to read.

Want to write a children’s picture book? Here’s 6 essentials. Click to tweet.

Joanne_0684-smallJoanne Sher is a Jew by birth, a Christian by rebirth, and a writer by gift. After working as a newspaper reporter, then pursuing inspirational fiction, she has spent the last two-plus years learning the craft of writing children’s picture books. A native Southern Californian, she now lives happily in West Michigan with her husband and two kids – an almost-teen daughter and an-almost driver son. In addition to writing, she is also a freelance editor and the blogger at the FaithWriters blog.

Visit her at http://www.joannesher.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joannesherwriter/.