How can I slow down thoughts in my head when writing a story? I love to write stories. But I've noticed that when I read over work, events that I though came much later in the story came fast. Are the...
How can I slow down thoughts in my head when writing a story?
I love to write stories. But I've noticed that when I read over work, events that I though came much later in the story came fast. Are the any tips I can use to slow down events in my head and make the story seem less rushed?
It is not necessarily so much a matter of slowing down thoughts in your head as getting the thoughts that are in your head down on paper. You can make sure you get all of your ideas in a few ways. You will have to see which way works best for you.
You don’t want lose your ideas. In his book On Writing, Stephen King comments about the elusive nature of ideas.
We are writers, and we never ask each other where we get our ideas; we know we don’t know. (p. xiv)
So you really want to take advantage of the ideas you have. They are a gift. Don’t stop them—use them.
- Brainstorm first. You can do this by quickwriting (writing down whatever comes to your head), listing, bullet points, or webbing. If you get all of the ideas out, it will be easier to put them in order and format them later.
- Speak into a tape recorder or use a typing program. Sometimes you can get the thoughts out faster than you can type. Speaking into a tape recorder allows you to keep ideas for later. You can sort through them more slowly then.
- Hand-write first. Some people write faster and more freely when they actually take pen to paper. It may seem a little old fashioned, but it may actually be more comfortable. You can take ideas later and finalize them while typing.
This can be a problem in my writing as well, but I have two tips to prevent writing a story that seems to speed through its events.
First, Write Down Your Thoughts.
It doesn't matter what order you plan on putting your events in -- just write every scene, every piece of dialogue, and every action that comes to mind. Put all of the images in your head down somewhere to reference later. You can type your thoughts (this option comes easiest for me), or you can write them down on paper, or you can type them in a Notes app on your phone. It doesn't matter. Just write!
By writing everything that comes to mind, it frees up space in your creatively cluttered brain to come up with more ideas to add to your story. I find it helpful, personally, to write down story ideas as soon as they come so I don't forget in the future.
After doing this, it'd be helpful to organize your ideas into a timeline or some type of story web. What event do you feel should be towards the beginning of your story, and what event do you feel should be towards the end? When should your character belt out their infamous monologue? It's also best to examine how your ideas relate to one another. For example, does one character need to say their specific line of dialogue BEFORE another character does a specific action in order to move the story forward? And what idea or event is dependent on what? By asking yourself these questions, you will begin to think critically about the shape of your story. Having the right "shape" will help for a smooth read that doesn't seem too slow or too fast.
(Fun Tip! My playwriting professor gave me a good tip about organizing story webs. If you are more hands-on and prefer writing all of your ideas down on paper, use a sticky note or notecard for each idea. That way when you start organizing a timeline of your events, you can easily (and literally) move ideas around in your preferred order.)
Second, Expand on Your Work by Being Descriptive.
Good descriptions are what make a story interesting. They engage the reader and paint a vivid picture of each scene, movement, and character. Once you believe you have a good grip on your storyline, go through and re-read. See if you can spot any areas that are lacking in the description department. A good way of making sure your readers can fully realize each scene is to do the Five Senses Test. For every scene, write down what your characters can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.
For example, let's say your first scene takes place in a classroom: what do you see? Lots of tables... OK, but what kind of tables? Plastic? Metal? Cherrywood? And how many tables? Are the tables in a specific pattern or just thrown across the room? Um... well... It's okay, think about it. What else do you see in the room? Are there people, animals, aliens? Any windows? A chalkboard?
Now let's move on to the next sense: Hearing. How does this scene sound? Is it quiet or loud? Very loud. Great! What's making all the noise? The students? Or maybe there's an ambulance that just whizzed by on the street right outside the grand window. Or the classroom pet is begging for attention. Anything is up to your imagination!
Now all you'd have to do is go through each sense and create beautiful images to put down on paper. It may be difficult and every scene may not have every sense available, but once you do this, your story will come to life. With more descriptions, your reader will be forced to take a moment to take everything in... they will be forced to slow down for just a second before continuing on. Your story will transform from a rushed snack, to a filling meal.
(Hope you liked my food analogy.)