Redd Tramp's picture
Redd Tramp from Los Angeles, CA is reading Mongrels by SGJ; Sacred and Immoral: On the Writings of Chuck Palahniuk; The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault October 14, 2015 - 10:26pm

So, the act of writing, at least for me, is awfully slow, sometimes almost painfully. Even in bursts, you still have to nail down the details and how they relate to character and plot, and so on. I know it's not just me when I say that that slowness, that gradualness, seems to make it harder to pace your plot and plan your story. Or, maybe it is. Maybe this just has to do with outlining well. Planning. But maybe not. My mind speeds when given a specific task--inventory of senses, picking details, good descriptions, keep it moving, etc.--but what if the slowness of that specific task is restricting my conception of the bigger picture? My point is: how do you slow yourself down enough to create the right pieces while also still considering the whole puzzle? Thoughts, por favor?

 

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore October 15, 2015 - 5:58am

This isn't really answering your question, but maybe it's still helpful. I focus a lot on rhythm in my writing (the eventual reading of it, I should say). When things need to fly, I leave out details (especially adjectives), just stating the facts, almost like bullet points. Sentence fragments. Sentegraphs. Short paragraphs. Clipped dialogue. Also simplify the language. Conversely, I'll use more florid language and run-on sentences and lots of commas—broken up with dashes and whatnot—when I want to slow the pace. Longer graphs. You can literally look at the page visually and know what I'm trying to do. 

To me, the writing speed and plot speed are completely unrelated, and often inversely proportional. As the expression goes: "If I had more time, I'd have written a shorter letter." But maybe in your case, if you feel like you're in the zone and need to keep your momentum, just jot the skeletons of those quick sensations and details while they're fresh, and make a note to expand on them later during your, um … oh, let's call it "refractory period."

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal October 15, 2015 - 10:26am

If I'm on a role, I don't. Leave notes to yourself for things to fix and potential iisues, or just go back and fix it later after your burst ends. Revision is where good writing is made.

Redd Tramp's picture
Redd Tramp from Los Angeles, CA is reading Mongrels by SGJ; Sacred and Immoral: On the Writings of Chuck Palahniuk; The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault October 15, 2015 - 9:03pm

Revision is where good writing is made.

True that. Writing's always really felt like a chiseling activity. My issues stem from focus problems. I tend to get distracted once I start stringing sentences together. Which, if I can figure out how to apply a simpler, quicker method, wouldn't be a problem, I guess.

Also, what's a sentagraph, Gordon? I've never heard of that. Was it difficult at first for you to get the juices flowing when thinking in bullet points? I can certainly appreciate how, once you strike a comfortable rhythm like you say, this is super helpful. I'm going to try this out.

I'm taking Symbolic Logic this semester at school, and it's totally warping my brain. Making me appreciate though the basic parts of any statement. I feel like your suggestion came at exactly the right time.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore October 16, 2015 - 4:53am

A sentegraph is a one-sentence paragraph. Palahniuk is particularly fond of them. It's one way to emphasize a statement, like a punchline or aphorism.

By bullet points, I mainly meant sentence fragments. Many of us speak that way, so they come naturally to me. It's also similar to an image sequence in a screenplay, just a list of quick shots that efficiently paint a picture. So, for example, when wanting to convey a sense of speed or urgency in a driving scene, you might write something like: "Knuckles white around the wheel. Tach pegging 6k. Hula girl shimmies atop the dash. Empty duffel on the passenger seat. The unchanging desert view. 10:37 a.m." There's not much subjectivity there, not much creative thinking, just getting down the facts, so it's pretty quick to write. Maybe tidy it up later, maybe not.

 

Redd Tramp's picture
Redd Tramp from Los Angeles, CA is reading Mongrels by SGJ; Sacred and Immoral: On the Writings of Chuck Palahniuk; The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault October 16, 2015 - 5:09am

Hmm, I've never heard that word. That's cool. Kinda reminds me of what Clevenger wrote about being able to label each paragraph with two words.

Wow. I like that. I like that a lot. Great advice. It's like inventorying details in a fragmented bare bones way. 

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal October 16, 2015 - 8:48am

Chuck and guys like that use the sentegraph (new term to me too) very well. In my opinion,  too much in the earlier works, but whatever. 

 

Writing's always really felt like a chiseling activity.

 

To me, I liken it to combing tangled hair. Each pass you straighten it a little more, work out whatever kinks or whatever happens to long hair, just a little at a time. And maybe it takes a hundred times with the comb, but once you're done it's all lined up perfectly.

 

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami October 16, 2015 - 1:31pm

I like sentagraphs near the end of the story that use flowery prose.

Ex. Compare:

  • She had irritable bowels that tormented her for the rest of her days.
  • She had a kind of digestive dyslexia then, her body never agreeing with her since.

My personal preference is the latter, obviously. The previous not so classy.

I also do this at the end of paragraphs from time to time. Granted I tend more to the slower flowery prose in general.