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How To Write Faster

Have you ever wondered how you could write faster? Perhaps you’ve spent ages rewriting the same sentence over and over again? Or maybe you are someone who struggles to begin a book or a project in the first place. You have an idea in your mind, rattling away inside of you, but you are reluctant to get it out on paper. Perhaps you don’t even know where to start? Or, like me, you’ve seen other writers churn out numerous articles, books and blog posts and wondered how they’ve managed to write them so quickly.  Don’t worry – we’ve all been there!  If that sounds like you, some fast writing exercises might help you put aside some of your worries and actually focus on getting the words on the page. I know I, and many other authors, benefit from writing fast first drafts that we can later refine, and it might well be that this process can work for you too.  Many famous books have been written at speed. On the Road by Jack Kerouac was allegedly written in an impressive three weeks and John Boyne has claimed that it took him roughly two and a half days to write the first draft of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.  Of course, in these cases, we are talking about drafts – but if you can get a fast draft down, the rest of your writing can develop quickly too.  In this article, we will discuss why writing quickly is useful and go through some tips to help you start writing faster today.  Are you ready to see how fast writing might just give you the kickstart you were looking for?  If so, sit back read on, and get ready to pick up that pen. The race is on so let’s not delay!   Why Writing Quickly Matters  There is certainly a great deal of value in writing faster, even if it’s just your first draft. Many authors and writers will attempt to get their initial drafts down quickly while the ideas are still fresh in their minds and while they are fully excited by the project. A lot of excitement in a new project is usually stacked at the beginning, so you need to tap into those feelings for as long as you can, and fast writing will really help you to achieve that aim.   Writing quickly really is about just getting those words down on the page – they don’t have to be structurally or grammatically perfect yet! The editing and refinement can come much later. Quick writing means you can simply have fun allowing your ideas to spill from your mind onto the page - and it is a great way to allow your creative juices to flow freely without too much interruption.   Also, by getting your words down on the page fast, you will help your brain remain engaged with your writing for as long as possible, and you will be able to stay in a flow state for longer. You will find you are less likely to lose focus or allow your mind to wander onto the next enticing project - or begin to worry if the project you are writing is even working. The faster and more productive you are at getting your words on the page – the more likely you will be able to have a finished project at the end of it that you can refine.  Regardless of the form you’re writing in, when you are writing faster you will hopefully reduce the occurrence of writers\' block, as you will be fully focused on getting words on the page. It’s fair to say that the faster you are writing, the less likely you are to be distracted or to have the time to pause and worry about what to add next. The fun of this exercise comes in the freewriting itself and letting the words flow. Yes, you may lose some content later and may have to make changes – but that comes at the next stage. For now, you need to simply enjoy the act of writing in its purest form.  I think it’s fair to say that we can appreciate that writing fast can be beneficial and a great way of writing in a free, expressive and limitless way, but how can we do it? Is it really that easy to remove the shackles and anxieties that you might be holding on to and simply allow yourself to write quickly and freely? In the next section, we will explore some tips and methods that will help you to write a book faster.  How To Write A Book Faster  Writing a book faster is not as daunting as it might sound – but it does require some commitment, determination and self-belief. You need to tell yourself that you can do this and make writing a priority even if it’s just for a short time each day. Writing in fast, sharp bursts is often a good method for writers who might fall victim to procrastination or dithering. This way of fast writing worked well for me when I was writing my debut YA novel Seven Days. At the time, I was working full time and raising two young children. An idea for a teenage story developed in my head and wouldn’t leave me. I was determined and energised to get the story on paper as quickly as I could. I set myself short periods of time where I made myself write and this forced me to write fast. The result was a first draft that was written in three months (quick for me!). Since then, I have always tried to write quickly and efficiently, often with self-imposed short deadlines to keep me motivated. This method doesn’t work for everyone, but it certainly did for me, and I would recommend that you give it a try. What is there to lose?  So, how can you become a fast writer? It might not be a skill that comes naturally to you, in which case some of these tips and methods may help you become a much quicker and more efficient writer and allow you to get that draft written at speed.  Write Daily  Try to set yourself a target to write something every day, either by hand or on a computer (whichever you feel most comfortable with). This could be a word count target, or it could be just a set amount of time – but by making yourself write a little bit each day, you will find that your project will develop much more quickly.  Set A Timer  This can be another useful tip, especially for those of us that work well under pressure or to tight deadlines. Set yourself a time limit. It doesn’t have to be long – perhaps 15 or 30 minutes - and then make yourself write nonstop within that period. Don’t stop to check back or edit your work. Simply keep writing and let the words flow as the time counts down. This can be an effective way of speed writing. Again, this method can be used for both writing by hand and typing.   Many people specifically like to use the Pomodoro technique, wherein you set a timer for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, and repeat this process. After four 25 minute writing sessions, you then take a longer break of 15 minutes or so and repeat the process again.  Write At A Time When You Are Most Focused  This is quite a useful tip, as it\'s true that most writers have a time when they are most productive. I know writers that wake up very early in the morning and are most productive then. Others may find that they can write faster and better in the evenings. It might be that, due to other demands, you have a limited choice of when you can write – but if you can, try to pick a time when you are not too tired or overwhelmed by other projects. Your words are likely to flow better, and have greater clarity, if your mind is clear and your body is relaxed.   Eliminate Environmental Distractions  Again, this can be a tricky one, depending on your circumstances – but if you can, try to remove those external distractions. Ensure the dog is walked before starting, so they can’t badger you while you’re writing, tell family members that you are working and cannot be disturbed, and try to reduce the noise and distractions around you. I know that many writers value the use of noise cancellation headphones for such work as this helps to block out background noise.  However, once again, all writers are different, and some people (like me) actually write better in noisier environments. So, it is also about finding out what suits you best.  Create An Outline To Work From  Some writers work much better if they have a plan or an outline to follow, and know roughly what each scene will entail. So if you\'re someone who likes structure, having that initial outline will help you write the first draft much more quickly. If you are a writer who tends to like planning out your ideas (rather than a panster who will just slam down whatever comes into their head) – it might be an idea to shape out your idea first. Consider drafting out a plan first to give you something to work from and allow your words to flow much faster.  Stay Away From The Internet!  This is an important tip. If you want to write fast and efficiently, you need to remove the lull of the phone and the internet during the time you are writing. Keep your phone away from your desk while you’re getting those words down and resist the temptation to hop onto the internet for a break. Searching houses or checking Facebook is not going to get those words down any faster!  Set Rewards  This is one that I personally do myself. If I’ve met my word count for the day, I will give myself a little reward. It might be as small as a biscuit, or half an hour watching my favourite (naff) TV show, but it helps my writing brain to know that there’s a reward at the end and I do end up writing faster because of it. Set A Word Count  This could be another daily target that you set yourself to get those words down on the page quickly. A common target is 1,000 words a day. Many authors will either work towards a daily word count, or will set themselves a certain amount of time to write in. Again, it will depend on the individual, as people have different preferences.  Make Sure You’re Comfortable  Ensure that your desktop is set up correctly and that you have the appropriate chair and desk. You won’t get many words down if your back is crying in pain - and you will thank me for this tip later!  Be Excited/Motivated  Try not to see your writing time as a chore or as work. Enjoy it! If you’re having fun and are relaxed it will show in your writing. It makes a big difference if you’re writing about a topic, or in a genre, which you care about and enjoy.  Don’t Stop To Edit/Read Back  This is an important tip when it comes to writing fast. You shouldn’t stop to edit or read back through your work. Writing at speed is all about getting those words down on the page; you can worry about refinement and detail later.  Research Later  The same can be said for research. This can be quite a time-consuming part of writing and although it is necessary – it is not essential at the speed writing point. You can go back and add the relevant research points later, but first, focus on getting your bare-boned structure down.   If it helps, you can always add notes- colour coded, in brackets, underlined etc- in your draft reminding you to go back and check certain details or add in some specific information.  Remember – It’s Not Meant To Be Perfect!  This can be a hard tip for perfectionists, or for those writers that are used to editing as they go, but if you want to try writing more quickly, it’s important to note that your first draft will probably end up quite rough and imperfect. This is fine, though, as you can then have fun refining it at the editing stage.  Use Other Devices (Tablet, Notebook, Whatever Works)  You might consider using other devices to speed write. Some people write faster by hand. Others prefer to use a tablet, whilst others will prefer to write straight onto a computer/laptop. Find what works for you and stick with it.   You could also use speech-to-text dictation and speak your writing aloud into your laptop. This works particularly well if you express yourself more coherently verbally than you do when writing, or if you’re a faster speaker than you are a typist.  Have Snacks!  This is a tip I’m happy to endorse. Quick snacks or drinks will help you avoid the temptation of trips to the kitchen!  How To Write Quickly As writers we must always appreciate our own strengths and weaknesses and for some individuals, the fast-writing method may not appeal, or even work. It takes some people longer to write a book than others, and there\'s nothing wrong with that. However, for many – this could be a very productive and motivating way to get words onto a page and to progress your writing onto the next level.  Remember that the key thing here is not to produce a polished and perfect draft – instead, you are looking to produce a working draft that can be edited and refined later.   Writing quickly can be a useful tool to learn, and can be especially handy if you are trying to squeeze your writing into an already packed schedule. But it\'s not purely about learning how to speed write. The key is to be disciplined and self-motivated and write under the conditions which most inspire you. The results will speak for themselves. Perhaps you will be the next John Boyne and produce a draft within a few days, or perhaps, more realistically, you will have a workable document in a much faster time than you thought was otherwise possible. Either way, you have nothing to lose by giving it a go – so get rid of those distractions and set that timer! Let’s see where your speedy words take you!  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How To Write A Novel Synopsis (With An Example)

Including a template for you to follow and a working example When you approach literary agents, you will need to present them with a submission package that includes a query letter, a sample of your manuscript and, of course, a synopsis. If you’re asking yourself how to write the synopsis, you should know it will need to look professional – that is, it wants to follow a proper synopsis format – and it needs to do its job, of convincing a literary agent that your story sounds exciting. That’s not actually hard to achieve, and this post will tell you exactly how to write a novel synopsis. We’ll reveal the two huge tricks that make your life easy as a synopsis writer…and give you an example of a novel synopsis too, so you can understand exactly how to put the rules into practice. Sounds good? Let’s jump right in. How To Write A Novel Synopsis What is the synopsis? A synopsis is a 500-800 word summary of your book that forms part of your agent submission pack. It should outline your plot in neutral non-salesy language and demonstrate a clear narrative arc. Every character, any big turning point or climactic scene, and all plot twists should get a mention. But lets go into the definition in more detail. Definition: What Is A Synopsis? A synopsis is: A short summary of your story, in its entirety, from beginning to end, soup to nuts, nose to tail.Written in fairly neutral, non-salesy language.Follows the same broad structure as your novel. So if, for example, you have a novel with two intertwining time-strands, your synopsis would follow the order of events as presented in the novel. Your novel’s structure trumps any chronological issues.Probably about 500-800 words in length, but agents’ requirements differ, so do check against each agent’s submission requirements. From this definition, it also follows that: A good synopsis is not like the text on the back jacket of a book. Those book blurbs are much shorter and normally offer only a teaser, rather than a full rundown of the book’s story.For the same reason, a novel synopsis is not the same as an Amazon-style book description. In fact, a book synopsis is what you think it is. A 500-word long spoiler for your entire novel. Every major plot twist. Every major character. Any big turning point. Your big climactic scenes. They’re all there, briefly, succinctly and (yes) a little drily narrated. Oh yes: and some good news – If you can write a novel, then you can definitely write a synopsis. Writing a synopsis is a lot, lot easier than writing a whole damn novel, so don’t stress. You should be able to put together your synopsis in a morning – and still have time for a stroll before lunch. Purpose: What Is A Synopsis for? I just said that a book synopsis is kinda dry – and it is. In fact, I doubt if anyone has ever enjoyed reading one. It’s just not that entertaining. So if it’s not for fun – why have it? What is the synopsis of a book for, and why do almost all literary agents ask for one? OK, so this is how it works: Most literary agents will look at your covering letter first, then turn to the manuscript. If they like the first three chapters, they’ll be thinking, “This looks great, but is it going to hold interest? Is it worth making that investment of time to read it all?” That’s where the synopsis comes in. Your synopsis is there to outline your plot and to demonstrate a clear story arc, a satisfying ending. It’s your tool to make someone read on. That’s why your synopsis needs to: Tell an agent directly and clearly what your plot is – it needs to give a clear picture of the narrative arc;Clearly identify your main characters – and at least hint at any major character development arcs;Make clear what your hook, premise or elevator pitch is;Demonstrate implicitly its appeal and how plot momentum increases;Share an ending that feels satisfying. If your synopsis achieves all that – and your query letter and manuscript sample is up to scratch – the agent will ask you for the full manuscript. They can’t not. You’ve got them hooked. Synopsis: Length, Tone, Format The format of a wonderful synopsis has the following ingredients: Length Your synopsis should be about 500 words (but check agency requirements – they can be quite variable). There’s a lot of advice around suggesting that your synopsis should run to no more than one page. We think that’s on the low side. Most good synopses we see run to two nicely formatted pages (ie: reasonable line spacing, normal margins and a sensible font.) Language Be business-like; clear, to the point, neutral. In particular, it’s fine to tell not show: this is a business document, not the novel itself. Presentation Be well-presented with no typos or spelling mistakes. Use normal fonts, normal margins, and line spacing no narrower than 1.5. It’s fine if your synopsis runs to two pages, but (unless an agent specifically asks for more), don’t run to more than that. Character Names Put the names of main characters in bold or CAPS when you first introduce them. That makes the synopsis easier to navigate. Character Thumbnails As well as highlighting your characters names, you should give a swift resume of who they are, on first introduction. So for example: “James Bond, (38), a British agent – handsome, cruel, seductive, and high-living – …”. Note that you can insert age in brackets without having to say your protagonist “is thirty-eight years old.” Save that word count! Extra Points If you have a compelling way to ‘sell’ your story in 2-3 lines maximum, you could insert that little snippet up at the top of your synopsis. Third Person Presentation Even if your novel is narrated in the first person, your synopsis should be written in the third person. So (to pick one of my own first person detective novels for example), I wouldn’t write “I am a police constable in South Wales …”, but rather, “Fiona Griffiths is a police constable, based in South Wales…” You can instantly see how much more professional the third person sounds to the reader, right? File Name Please don’t call your file synopsis.doc. That works fine for you on your computer – but the agent probably has 100 files from writers with that exact filename. So help the agent out. Your file should be in the format title-synopsis. So: farewell-to-arms-synopsis.doc, for example. And once again: tell the story. Your job is not to sell the book, write the blurb, or anything else, just say what happens in the story. How To Write A Synopsis For Your Novel There are two big tricks in getting your synopsis right. They are: Trick The First Don’t take your massive 100,000 word manuscript and try to figure out how to cram all its rich complexity into a 500 word precis. It can’t be done. You’ll go crazy. Your synopsis will be terrible. Instead of going from your manuscript and boiling it down, you need to go from your structure and build up. That’s the trick. It works every time and it’s awesome. What’s your structure? It’s this: Status quoInciting incidentRising action/DevelopmentsCrisisResolution Without looking at your manuscript, sketch out your plot using those headings in about 300 words. The ‘developments’ section obviously represents the largest portion of your novel, but it may not amount to more than 40-50% of your total word count here. That’s fine. Missing out excessive detail is exactly the point. It’s precisely what you’re trying to do. So do it, and don’t fret. Equally: don’t get into too much detail about character or settings or anything like that. Just focus on the exact plot mechanics for now. Second only to your novel, these are the most important documents you’ll ever write – so get them sorted fast, easily, and with excellence. You’ll be glad you did. Trick The Second The second trick is equally simple and equally effective. It’s this: Layer in information about who your characters are and how the events of the story impact them. Synopses can feel like rather cold and baffling documents. When they do (and assuming they’re decently written), it’s always because the writer has focused entirely on plot machinery and hasn’t said enough about why it matters to the characters. But we read books for the characters, so your synopsis has to engage with those emotional aspects too. Remember I gave you only 300 words for the actual plot machinery? The remaining 200 words are where you can express yourself with protagonists, emotions and character arcs. Example (Without Character/Emotion Language): “As BELLA walks into the class, a fan blows her scent towards a boy, named EDWARD CULLEN. Bella sits next to Edward in biology class on her first day of school. He disappears for a few days, but sees more of Bella upon his return. Bella is then nearly struck by a van in the school parking lot. Edward saves Bella, stopping the van with only his hand.”(Adapted from the Wikipedia synopsis of Twilight) Example (With Character/Emotion Language) “As BELLA walks into the class, a fan blows her scent towards a mysterious boy named EDWARD CULLEN. Bella sits next to Edward in biology class on her first day of school, but he seems repulsed by her, affecting her feelings in the process. He disappears for a few days, but warms up to Bella upon his return; their newfound relationship is interrupted after Bella is nearly struck by a van in the school parking lot. Edward saves Bella, stopping the van with only his hand.”(Source: as above) Do you see how much more engaging the second version is to the reader? Although the text remains quite dry, by including emotional/character-type language in its summary, we have some sense of the real, developing relationship. Short message: don’t focus so hard on plot mechanics that you forget to layer in emotion. Writing A Synopsis: Common Mistakes Here’s what not to do. Miss the agent’s word count by a mile. If an agent’s website gives you a particular word count to aim for, then deliver that, at least approximately. You may find you need a couple of different versions of the same documents, just because those blooming agents can’t cohere around one set word count. Jeepers. Those guys.Go into detail about setting: If you were writing a synopsis for a Jane Austen novel, for example, you might simply say: “This novel is set in a small village in Regency England.” You don’t need more.Go into vast detail about character: A few quick strokes are all that you need. (For example: “Ella, an experienced but overconfident assassin (36)…”)Be scrupulous about plot detail: It’s fine to skip subplots or ignore some finer details. The truth is, you won’t have time to include those things in a 500-word summary. Agents know that the synopsis is at best an approximation of the story.Hide the plot twist: A synopsis is the ultimate plot spoiler, opposite to a blurb, and your job is to reveal all major plot points, whether you like it or not.Start telling us about the novel. So, for example, don’t say, “Then the novel picks up the story of Kate and Jacob…”. Say: “Meanwhile, Kate and Jacob…”Cram in too many character names. Four or five is the maximum an agent wants to deal with. If you need to refer to other characters, just say, “the CIA agent” or “the beautiful doctor”.Forget to put your character names in CAPS or bold. Make it easy for the literary agent!Omit the title. Yes, we’ve seen synopses entitled “Synopsis”. Make sure you have both the title of your book and your name up at the top of your document. So your title line might read: A Farewell to Arms: Synopsis”, and beneath that in smaller text you’d have your name – maybe Ernest somebody-or-other.Use an unhelpful filename. Your document needs to be yourbooktitle-synopsis.doc.Write badly. Yes, a synopsis is a brisk, functional document, and you don’t need to write wonderfully. But you are still a writer trying to sell your work, so don’t allow yourself clumsy or badly expressed sentences.Fail to use our incredible Agent Submission Builder. These tools help you structure and write your synopsis and your query letter in a trice. Or even less than that – a dice. You can get them for free here. Watcha waitin’ for? If you’re not making those errors, you should be good to go. If you need help on getting your plot structure right in the first place, then check out these links: how to plot, more on using plot outlines, and how to apply the snowflake method to your story construction process. Synopsis: An Example This is a synopsis example penned by one of our own clients, Tracy Gilpin. The synopsis (and the book) went on to wow a literary agent and secure a book deal. Synopsis Of Double Cross By Tracy Gilpin Dunai Marks discovers the strangled corpse of Siobhan Craig, an activist who is not only her employer but also a mother figure; Dunai had been abandoned at an orphanage as a baby. Siobhan was about to present to government the results of a controversial population control model for possible implementation at national level. Dunai believes this is the reason she was murdered. The investigating officer on the case is instructed by an agent of the National Intelligence Agency to treat the murder as a botched burglary. Although some evidence points in this direction, Dunai believes Siobhan’s murder was work-related, which means she and Bryan, an American statistician, could be in danger. She strikes a deal with Carl, a private investigator. If she is able to find a motive for the murder he will show her how to go about catching the killer. Dunai discovers Siobhan was blackmailing five people who stood in the way of her pilot project, and was involved with a subversive group of radical feminists called Cerchio Del Gaia whose insignia is a double cross. Dunai and Carl investigate the individuals blackmailed by Siobhan. They include: an anti-abortion activist, the head of an all-male religious fundamentalist group, an Anglican bishop, a member of local government, and a USAID official. One of these suspects was the last person to see Siobhan alive, another is known to have approached a contract killer a month before her murder. Cerchio Del Gaia becomes increasingly entangled in both Dunai’s life and the investigation, and she is told that if she joins the group she will have access to information about her birth. The National Intelligence Agency is on a similar tack; if Dunai infiltrates Cerchio Del Gaia, which they believe is an international terrorist organisation, they will provide her with information about her origins. Dunai turns down both offers and the mystery of her birth and abandonment is eventually revealed by a woman claiming to be Siobhan’s sister, Dunai’s birth mother and the head of the South African chapter of Cerchio Del Gaia. Throughout the investigation Dunai has searched for Mr Bojangles, a schizophrenic vagrant who may have seen the murderer. When she eventually finds him he seems to be of little help, yet it is his ramblings along with another clue that leads to her close friend and colleague, Bryan, who has been wanted by the FBI for twenty years for terrorist activities in the US. Bryan murdered Siobhan after discovering she intended betraying him to the National Intelligence Agency to deflect attention from Cerchio Del Gaia and as proof that she abided by the law even when it meant personal sacrifice. Carl, who is now romantically involved with Dunai, offers to continue her training as an investigator and she agrees to divide her time between this and Siobhan’s NGO. What Next? We suggest using Tracy’s synopsis as a great example for your own synopsis format. If you need more help writing your synopsis and query letter, we offer an agent submission pack review, which is one of the many manuscript editing services we provide. Happy writing – and have fun. Frequently Asked Questions How Do You Write A Good Novel Synopsis? To write a good synopsis, you need to write in the third person; use correct grammar; examine the structure of your novel and include all the main plot points; write in neutral language; include your hook; ensure you stick to the word count; layer in information about your characters; include all spoilers and plot twists; and include your novel\'s title. What Should Be Included In A Novel Synopsis? A novel synopsis should include: your premise/hook, the overall plot (each important plot point), an introduction to your main characters, plot twists and spoilers, and character development arcs. How Many Words Should A Novel Synopsis Be? Synopsis lengths can vary- check to see the length the literary agent you\'re querying has suggested- but they tend to be around 500 words long. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer’s community. 
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