Pulp Speed

For those who missed it, yesterday there was a great episode of Brian Niemeier’s Geek Gab: On the Books. In this week’s episode, he spoke with author Lucas Flint, on the topic of pulp speed.

What is pulp speed, you might ask? Put simply, according to prolific writer Dean Wesley Smith, it is more of a mindset, for writers who have cleared out damn never every myth and belief taught to them about writing by English teachers. A Pulp Speed writer loves to just tell stories, one right after another. In practice, this means doing away with as much rewriting as possible, while writing about 5,000 words a day.

This, of course, is not an easy thing to do at all, and every writer is different, so instead of trying to postulate some ideal version of this, I’m going to go into how I approach this lofty ideal, which, in this new age of publishing, gives writers capable of it a major advantage.

One thing that needs to be noted, is that to truly reach this pulp speed goal, even on of the lower “pulp factors,” (it goes from 1 to 6), one really needs to fully devote themselves to writing full time. This, of course, makes it harder for a new writer such as myself, whose writing does not yet completely support himself, to manage. Among other things, I do have to spend some time looking for at least part time work for the near future, and once I find something, that will take time as well. Also mentally, it’s much easier to spend the several hours a day needed to hit that word count, along with other writing related activities to promote and market one’s work, when you are supporting yourself off of it.

That said, I have seen my productivity level gradually increase, in part because, as per one of the tenets of pulp speed, I try to rewrite as little as possible. With my last couple of books, my process has been: Write the first draft (largely, if not entirely, from an outline), do one complete revision on my own (though with my last two books, I had at least some feedback from a now essentially disbanded writing group). then seek out beta reader feedback, and implement what I think is worthwhile before sending it off to my editor. So, essentially, I have only two drafts, plus a bit of additional spot work, prior to the professional editing. It is in part due to this that with each book I write, I complete it faster. For context, each of my books is at least 140,000 words in length, and the last two I completed in just about a year each–one while working on my Master’s thesis, and the other while I moved to a different country. Unfortunately, when I draft to the IDF later this year, things will be disrupted, but once that is finished, I fully intend to write at the minimum, three books of that length every two years, in addition to (hopefully) regular shorter works set in the galactic setting of the series that my debut novel, A Greater Duty, launched. And, once I begin to support myself purely via my writing, I hope to up this speed.

As I said earlier, in modern day publishing, speed matters more and more (while still maintaining quality.) Indie authors cannot pull a George R. R. Martin, or a Patrick Rothfuss. That would spell the death of our careers, or at least inflict significant damage. For an example of writers writing at great speed and doing well, look no further than Nick Cole and Jason Anspach, whose Galaxy’s Edge series has been doing extremely well. The first two books were released only a month apart, and the third is already up for pre-order.

Again, not everyone can write at so fast a pace, not initially, at least. And, additionally, one’s publication schedule will vary, of course, depending on the length of their books, etc. But as for me, whether I can only manage pulp factor 1 or something higher, it is something I aspire to. Because I have great stories to tell, and this is all I want to do. For now, back to work.

And, you know, it will help me move closer to the point where I can write even faster if I sell more books. Check out my debut novel. A Greater Duty. The sequel will be out this fall!

This week’s Geek Gab: On The Books

Dean Wesley Smith’s article about Pulp Speed

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