Red Light, Green Light: A Guide to How Fast to Write

by Tim Kane

I’ve been stressing of late on the speed of my writing. My last manuscript flew off my fingertips. This one feels like glue oozing through a pinhole. It has me frustrated and worried.

Then I got to thinking. Perhaps different speeds of writing are natural. My colleague Chet Cunningham rattles out at least 2 or 3 books a year. But he writes pure genre (Western or Action). Those tropes are predicable and once you know the landmarks, they can be easily negotiated.  He’s also written 400 plus books, so I’d think he knows the format by now.

My last manuscript had a convenient structure, that of Tarot cards. Therefore I was able to maneuver through it at a brisk pace.

My current work has no genre or structural benefits. Additionally, I’m struggling with the protagonist. At first the plot overwhelmed him, leaving him flattened and two-dimensional. Now I’m digging into character design. And it’s slow going. But the progress is beneficial.

Here’s the cut and dry advice. If you’re writing genre, then zip ahead. Pass Go and collect your 200 pages. You know the ins and outs of the structure so whip those pages out. If you’re treading new ground (either a new genre or something of the literary or realistic fiction bent) then you’ll need to spend more time delving and developing. Don’t be afraid to work for a few hours and have zero pages added to the manuscript. That’s just part of the deal. The pages will come.

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About Tim Kane

Tim Kane is a young adult fiction writer.
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