Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Dean Wesley Smith's Pulp Speed

From Dean Wesley Smith's article on Pulp Speed.

And it takes a real love of telling stories and an ability to write one draft fiction. Rewriting kills Pulp Speed completely. None of the great Pulp Writers you read today and many of the great literary writers never rewrote anything. They told people they did starting in the 1970s and afterward when the rewriting craze started to hit, but they never did in reality.

Remember, to them words were money. One cent per word made them rich. The more words in sellable fiction, the richer they got.


About 1,000,000 (1 million) original words per year. This averages to about 2,750 words a day for 365 days. (numbers rounded)

Or about 83,300 words per month.  So if you do 3,000 words a day and over 84,000 words per month ON AVERAGE for a year, you are writing at PULP SPEED ONE. (if you take days off, then your daily word count has to go up on your writing days. Do your own math for your schedule.)
He describes various levels, up to Pulp Speed Six, or 2,000,000 original words per year.  That's more words in one year than G. R. R. Martin has published for the entire Song of Ice and Fire series over the course of twenty years.  Those levels of production explain the pulps' reliance on structures and formulas, as organization assists in creation.  When you're relying on one cent a word to pay the bills, streamlining the creative process is a must.

Also of interest is that the padding of paperbacks began in the early 80s, right after the heroic fantasy explosion.  The search for paperback profits contributed to the un-weirding of science fiction and fantasy by selecting against the shorter pulp novels. 

1 comment:

  1. Huh. Well that's certainly inspirational for those of us squeezing our writing into limited schedules. It's an affirmation that we self-published types trying to crank out material aren't necessarily wasting our time.