In today’s Journal
* Pulp Speed
* Topic: Forgetfulness—Blessing or Curse?
* The novel wrapped
* Of Interest
* The Numbers
There’s an item in “Of Interest” today on writing at what DWS terms “Pulp Speed.” I encourage you to read it, even if you’ve seen it before. It was one of the first few posts of Dean’s that I read, and I’ve read it again all three times he’s dusted it off and brought it forward.
Writing at any pulp speed is the ultimate challenge for writers who just like to tell stories. Writers who, like me, love to feel the keys of the keyboard moving beneath their fingers. There are pulp speed levels 1-6. For comparison, I’m currently limping along at Pulp Speed 2.
The term pulp speed itself is a little misleading. Writing at pulp speed has nothing to do with speed. It has do do with spending the time in the chair, writing. But as DWS mentions, you can’t even attempt this until you’ve cleared out the myths we were all taught about writing.
And you can’t attempt it if your work is “special,” written specifically to impress the brie-and-wine literary set. If that’s where you want to be, of course, that’s perfectly fine. Every writer is different.
As an aside, there’s also an article in “Of Interest” titled “Achieving Immortality Through Fiction.” I just want to note that these two ideas are not opposed to each other (another mythi). Many pulp writers achieved immortality through their fiction.
I suppose the difference is that the brie-and-wine crowd seek immortality and the rest of us just wanna tell stories. (grin)
To attempt writing at pulp speed, you only have to love to tell stories, one after the other. And you have to adopt a mindset I’ve talked about here before: THAT you write is important; WHAT you write, the individual story or novel or series, is not.
Which is not a bad transition into today’s topic. See you on the flip side.
Topic: Forgetfulness—Blessing or Curse?
The ability to forget, or maybe the inability not to, is a benefit. It’s an important aspect of being a professional fiction writer.
You can’t hold an entire novel in your head while you’re writing it. This is why writers who are less sure of themselves and their characters write character sketches and outlines. It is also why I force myself (yes, every single time) to trust my characters, buckle my seat belt, write off into the dark.
It naturally follows that you can’t hold something you’ve already written and published in your head either. And really, why would anyone want to?
But forgetfulness isn’t something a writer can develop so much as something that just happens.
In my humble opinion, if you can remember in any detail what your previous short story or novel was about, you aren’t writing enough stories or novels.
Part of this is a mindset: to always look forward, not back. And part of it is the ability and desire to practice, to keep moving forward and not back.
Of course, part of that goes to Heinlein’s Rule 3: You must not rewrite except to editorial order (and then only if you agree).
But part of it also goes to HR 1: You must write.
If you’re living with your characters in your current story, or if you’re anticipating your characters in the next story, chances are you won’t remember in any detail the scenes you wrote yesterday, much less the short story or novel you wrote previously.
I’m always stymied when a reader emails me to ask what I “meant” with a particular ending of a story. Before I can respond (and I always personally respond), I have to go back and read the ending.
And of course, because endings don’t exist in a vacuum, I most often have to read the entire short story again, or I have to read the reverse outline and the last few chapters or scenes of the novel.
I admit reading my own work is usually a pleasurable experience for me (other than spotting things I could have done better), but even then I get a little twinge of nausea because in those moments I’m looking back instead of forward.
Then again, that same “forgetfulness factor” is why keeping the characters and facts straight from novel to novel (or story to story) is so difficult when writing a series.
Reverse outlines help a lot, but in a series with recurring characters and in which those characters are developing, it can still be a challenge. So with every new novel I write in a series, yes, I refer back to the reverse outlines from earlier novels, but I often find myself having to bring up the original Word document and using the Find feature to locate specific characters or other details. Even while I’m writing the current novel.
So I suppose in that way forgetfulness is a curse rather than a blessing. But on the whole, I’d rather forget and have to scroll back to refresh and update my memory than to have all that weird stuff jumbled up inside my head.
The novel wrapped yesterday as I thought it might at about 10 a.m., and the next one in the series is queued up. Once I spell checked Terra 2, I saved a PDF copy and sent it off to my first readers.
A few other ideas are floating around in my head too. I’m gonna take a few days off (if I am able to do that). With my upcoming trip, it seemes an appropriate time. Still, the writer in me wants to check in with my characters to see and tell the next story.
I also might or might not post anything to this Journal for those few days. I’m fine, just taking a breather between novels, and then I have that trip coming up.
Talk with you again soon.
See “Pulp Speed Flashes To The Present” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/pulp-speed-flashes-to-the-present/.
See “Achieving Immortality Through Fiction” at https://killzoneblog.com/2021/04/achieving-immortality-through-fiction.html.
See “Top Two Anathemas” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/top-two-anathemas/.
The Journal…………………………………… 1010 words
Writing of Terra 2 (novel)
Day 1…… 3535 words. Total words to date…… 3535
Day 2…… 4660 words. Total words to date…… 8195
Day 3…… 3739 words. Total words to date…… 11934
Day 4…… 3638 words. Total words to date…… 15572
Day 5…… 2882 words. Total words to date…… 18454
Day 6…… 4777 words. Total words to date…… 23231
Day 7…… 3531 words. Total words to date…… 26762
Day 8…… 2785 words. Total words to date…… 29547
Day 9…… 1005 words. Total words to date…… 30552
Day 10… 3272 words. Total words to date…… 33824
Day 11… 3439 words. Total words to date…… 37263
Day 12… 4266 words. Total words to date…… 41529
Day 13… 4449 words. Total words to date…… 45978
Day 14… 2757 words. Total words to date…… 48735
Day 15… 4729 words. Total words to date…… 53464
Day 16… 2264 words. Total words to date…… 55728 (done)
Total fiction words for April……… 55728
Total fiction words for the year………… 342805
Total nonfiction words for April… 10900
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 78300
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 421105
Calendar Year 2021 Novels to Date…………………… 7
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 3
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 61
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.