I used to write slowly. As a novelist, I would meander, let myself go, simmer, get stopped up, go around in circles, find my way again and again. I still do that, I just do it very fast now.
If you’re on a deadline, but want to write a rich story fast, here’s a shorthand:
Every character gets an arc that hits at least three beats:
- We meet them when they’re low — or don’t know yet they’re about to take a big fall.
- They struggle with a new challenge.
- They change as a result.
Show each of these beats in a scene or scenes consisting of:
- a visual image
- an emotion
- a question in the mind of the audience — what comes next?
Weave these scenes together like a building conversation: each scene interviews the next, asking a more insistent question that’s only partially answered by the next, which answers a question with its own question in turn. Building in speed and intensity.
Every moment in your story is a great moment — if it’s not, lose it.
If you’re on a tight deadline, you can use this shorthand to develop a pretty tight story. Once you’ve got the story down, you can get profound.