Slow Down to Write Fast

Yeah, Sophie already knew that.

I was getting a bit bored, which is not a good sign. Specifically, I was writing an origin story for a fun new project that I’m going to need to spend some time announcing. But, yeah, I haven’t done that, yet. It’s going to be fun, though. Lots of good stuff. And I get to collaborate with my brother—who is a tres cool musician.

Still, there I was, writing away on a short story that we’re going to use as a jumping off place…and I just wasn’t feeling it.

Which bothered me. The thing is supposed to be fast-paced, you know? A quick read. A tad light-hearted and even whacky. It should be a blast to write. But I was dragging as I put down the words, and worse, I found myself dreading going back and re-reading parts. Not good. This was even more annoying because before diverting to work on this short story, I had been writing away quite easily on a novel in that same project. I chose to step back from that work because I needed to know some things that happened in the short story first. Now I felt momentum shifting as certainly as if I had fumbled in my own territory. Disappointing. It felt like I was really dragging.

Here’s the thing, though …

I got my act back together late yesterday and today. Things are now good.

Here’s another thing: The problem was not that the story was dragging. In fact, it was the exact opposite. I was pushing the story too fast. Trying to create excitement by skipping along like a rocket when really I should have simply slowed down and written the thing scene-by-scene, letting the characters crash against each other as hard as they needed to, and giving the place plenty of room to breathe with proper depth and characterization. I say that because when I went back and took the time to get down deeper into the work, it was suddenly fun. And, yeah, the thing may BE longer, but it reads so much faster because now there are handholds for the reader to follow along.

That’s my view, anyway.

Since I half-assed the first pass, I think I’ll need one more to really ensure I’ve got it mostly down, but the fact is that right now I’m feeling pretty good.

So, there’s a lesson, right?

If you want to make your story run faster, sometimes it helps to slow down and write deeper.

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  1. Good point. I sometimes find myself just focusing on dialog and assume that makes for fast reading (and writing). But conversation can get pretty tiresome without going ‘deep’ and weaving in the sights, smells, sounds, and feels of the setting where the dialog takes place. So this is helpful advice. Sñowing down to see the whole picture helps the scene go smoother and feel quicker.

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