Fast Drafting: A Word Count Builder

A while back, I did a post about fast drafting. This writing method came up in a discussion during the class I’m currently teaching called Editor’s First Aid: CPR for Your Dying Manuscript. If you want to get in on the fun, hop over to to sign up or watch for announcements on my blog. I’m going to teach this class at least once, if not another couple of times this year. In any case, I figured fast drafting was worth mentioning again because you might like to try it for yourself.

Note: While I am a romantic suspense writer, I haven’t written much this past year, ever since I increased my editorial business hours. This means the post won’t be entirely accurate since I’m on a writing break, but you’ll still get an idea of how to fast draft.

Does your inner-editor slow you down? Mine does. Not that I mind, but it depends on what my goal is at the time. If I’m trying to substantially increase my word count, my inner-editor must take a very long nap. However, if I want my manuscript as perfect as possible the first time around so I have less editing to do later, then I realize my word count meter is going to suffer.

What’s more important? Getting the words down or less editing later? That depends. Every writer is different. You need to find a system that works for you so you can continue to write. Fast drafting may be your ticket off the self-edit-while-writing train, allowing you to significantly increase your word count on a daily basis.

How do you fast draft? You simply write every scene in dialogue using very few tags, not much action, and no description. Instead, you add a brief action note to yourself that’s not actually part of the story (for now). See the example below.

(Dora enters the bar and goes over to her employee.)
“What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be at work.”
“I needed a break.”
“I’ll give you a break all right. A permanent one. You’re fired.”

The point of fast drafting is to get the words down as you feel them. The dialogue is more authentic that way and you can get further into your story and recognize problems in scenes without having invested too much time into the project. And, since you’re not writing full scenes, only the dialogue, your inner-editor doesn’t bother coming out to harass you.

Once you’ve completed the story—dialogue only—you start round two and add the setting, action, and descriptive details to really bring your story to life.

Do you have a fast drafting method? Have you tried this one before?

Lynnette Labelle