Sunday, March 6, 2011

That Was Fast

I finished a short story I’m calling “The Outlaw Marshal” and it’s the quickest I have finished a rough draft. I have several Cash and Miles stories in different stages of completion and hadn’t really planned on writing a new western in 2011. As it stands, “Cash Laramie and the Painted Ladies” will be at Crimefactory in a couple of months, then there are a couple other C&M tales already finished that will pepper the webzine landscape.

Why a new one? What happened was I had promised an editor friend a story and sent him an e-mail that I had one if he was interested. I later realized I had broken the cardinal rule by not reading his submission page first (geesh, I hate when folks do that to me) and found I was three thousand words past the limit. In that moment, I decided to write a brand spanking new story and "The Outlaw Marshal" popped out as if it had always been waiting. An hour later, I was done. Before sending it along, I will spend a few weeks polishing it up and then sit on it to see what it looks like a month from now.

What's the fastest you have written a short story? A novel? Do you believe something written fast can be good?

21 comments:

Evan Lewis said...

An hour?? Jeez, I'd say you are now officially a Pulp Writer.

David Cranmer said...

Yeah but several more weeks of polishing ahead of me, Evan. Still from initial thought to finished rough draft, this was fast.

Ron Scheer said...

Maybe it's a case of necessity being the mother of invention. I can't think of a good example of high-speed fiction writing, unless you count ON THE ROAD. But Noel Coward claims to have written BLITHE SPIRIT in 5 days, while on holiday from his bombed out apartment in London. It opened during the war in 1941 and ran for a record 1,997 performances. It is still a flawless comedy today.

David Barber said...

As I always wait until the last minute with my writing ( when writing for challenges etc) I should probably take a leaf out of your book and spend some extra time on mine!! Fatherhood seems to be treating you well, David!

Chudney Thomas said...

Good for you I don't think I've ever written a story in an hour. Good luck!

David Cranmer said...

Ron, I know of a few other examples (like SPIRIT) that we're written in less than a week and are masterpieces. I think if you're in the groove and the good Lord is shining a light anything can happen.

David, This may be a crap story after a few more polishes and sitting on it for a month. Yeah, I could never just fling a story out there without grinding it down for awhile. Just me.

Fatherhod is marvelous. The greatest experience ever, but, then again, you already know that. :)

Chudney, Thank you. I may feel differently about it in a week.

Chris Rhatigan said...

Sometimes fast is better for me. That means I have the story fully formed in my head--and it ends up more alive.

I wrote THE BAIT (my first published piece at ATON) in a couple of hours and sent it out. Usually the going is far slower than that!

Naomi Johnson said...

Fast may give me good bones, but the flesh is usually fatty. Like you, I have to spend much more time polishing than on the initial draft.

Craig Clarke said...

Congratulations, David. Good luck with the polishing!

G said...

The novel that I'm currently going through self-inflicted stress over trying to create a good query letter for, I wrote the first draft in a little over two months.

Started it on Super Bowl Sunday 2010 and finished late April. Spent the rest of that year doing the E word (editing) and the R word (re-writing) and now I'm starting to suffer the L word (loathe) a little bit.

David Cranmer said...

Chris, A missing comma or period drives me loco. I'm certain I could never send a story out in the same day because I'm afraid I might have overlooked something. More power to folks that can.

Naomi, I must have thirty-five short stories in the 'old desk drawer' just waiting to be looked at. I have only published something like fifteen total.

Thanks, Craig.

G, I have a full-length Cash Laramie novel sitting around and understand the L word. I even had a publisher ask for it and I couldn't bring myself to tackling what I consider the monster polish needed to make it presentable.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Sad to say probably two weeks is the fastest. I am neurotic about going over and over it.

David Cranmer said...

I remember it took EQMM's Edward D. Hoch two weeks from beginning to end to finish a story. Btw there is a terrific story in the latest Queen called "The Long Way Down."

Charles Gramlich said...

I've written a few short stories in a span of a few hours, and in a couple of cases found I didn't need to change much later. That's pretty rare for me though. The fastest I've ever completed a novel is almost a year, but that wasn't straight writing time, of course.

Sarah Laurence said...

Wow - one hour?! I'm impressed also that you took the time to polish and kept to guidelines.

I haven't written a short story since college so I don't have a good comparison. Those probably only took a few hours and weren't much good.

My ideas now come novel shaped. My fastest ever was my first young adult novel. I got the the idea in the middle of the night, and the whole story was basically there. It took me about 3 months to draft it since it was 60K words, and I was looking after 2 kids too. Then I spent over a year revising.

My WIP, another YA, took me 9 months to draft 80K words, but I'd been thinking about the idea for maybe 5 years. I plan to spend at least 6 months revising if not more. My adult book, 80K words, took me 2 years to write and to revise total, which I wrote before YA. I don't know if these slower works are any better or worse than the fast one. It is nice when the ideas come quickly.

Kieran Shea said...

maybe a couple of hours. btw, david...i'm still thinking of coming up to maine in mud season.

ChuckTyrell said...

I wrote Line Rider in no more than two hours, but I sent it to two fellow western writers for comments before I sent it off. I'm kind of a go with the flow writer. I started Big Enough way back when it was called Kid McCullough, but stopped after a couple of pages. Then Express Westerns set up for its second anthology, and I suddenly realized that Kid McCullough was actually a girl. From then on, it was all downhill. Two days of a couple of hours each. So I guess you could say I'm not much of a skull and drudgery writer.

David Cranmer said...

Charles, I know what you mean. I'm looking at "The Outlaw Marshal" this morning and it looks pretty darn good. And I don't normally say that.

Sarah, Two to three months for novels is what I'm hearing from most working writers. And it sounds like we are simpatico in terms of polishing. Heck, I'm still sitting on stories from two years ago.

Kieran, With today's rain, mud season seems sooner than ever. I heard you had a tornado in Jersey lately? My brother lives near Bricktown.

Chuck, I usually send my stories (of course, you know this :) to several writer friends before submitting. It seems foolish not to have a few extra well informed opinions. "Not much of a skull and drudgery writer." Me gusta!

Alyssa Goodnight said...

An hour?? That's crazy! This current book is by far my fastest (if I keep on the current pace), and the first draft will be done in a total of nine months. That said, I didn't write much at all in Nov or Dec. If I put my mind to it, maybe I *could* be a fast writer. :)

David Cranmer said...

Well fast is not always good. Matter of fact it isn't most of the time. But it can be done, on occasion, with amazing results.

Barrie said...

Sometimes characters have been knocking about in my brain for a while. So, when I go to write, it goes faster because I know them better than i realized. Maybe this story had been simmering on the back burner?