Can Quick Fiction Be Good Fiction?

by Bruce Blake

I’ve recently had a blog post I did about writing the first draft of my upcoming novel in 14 days circulating in a few places (check out the post here, check out some details about the new book here).  For the most part, the reactions I’ve received have been mostly curious and complimentary, but something unexpected popped up when it was shared on one of the most supportive Facebook writing pages I hang out at.

A gentleman who obviously didn’t bother to read the post called me out as being a boob peddling BS that pandered to the self-publishing set. He went on to suggest I had likely never strung together fifteen true, important, interesting words in one sentence (I personally think I made it to fourteen once, but then I lost it).

This post is not my shot at retribution–he apologized–but the gist of the comment was that nothing of value can be written in a short time (and please realize, if you didn’t read my original post, it was only the first draft written in 14 days–lots of editing after that). In response, another author (the wonderful Vickie Johnstone) posted about some authors who were known for writing quickly and their works. Prompted by this, I did some of my own research, and here are the combined findings”

Mickey Spillane‘s “I, the Jury“–his most famous Mike Hammer novel–was written in nine days and sold seven million copies

Agatha Christie wrote her first novel, “The Mysterious Affair at Styles“, in two weeks

Jack Kerouac wrote 200 short stories in eight weeks in 1941

Stephen King wrote “The Running Man” in three days

Not classic and literary enough for you? How about these:

Herman Melville wrote “Moby Dick” in six months

– “The Grapes of Wrath” took John Steinbeck only five months

Noel Coward‘s “Blythe Spirit“? Six days

Robert Louis Stevenson took only three days to write “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

Look up some great indie authors, too, like H.M. Ward, S.M Reine, Bella Andre, J.A. Konrath and many others. Our own Steven Montano seems to be pumping out some pretty darn good books himself, so check those out.

The point here is not only that time spent and quality are not necessarily linked, but that it is a dangerous road to drive anytime an entire group of anything gets painted with the same brush.

It’s also good to read a blog post before you comment on it.


Bruce Blake is the author of six books, the father of two children, and the husband of one burlesque diva. His dog is white, his cat is gray, and he often finds himself ticked off by people using only one brush to paint. His next book, When Shadows Fall, comes out Oct. 1–pick it up and decide if a decent book can be written in fourteen days.




6 comments on “Can Quick Fiction Be Good Fiction?

  1. I wrote my first romance novel in 19 days last summer with the three kids home from school and while running a farm. I’ve also written the final 70,000 words to my fantasy novel in six weeks while working part time out of the house, writing a syndicated column and taking care of three young kids. I think it was one of my best writing sessions ever. If you write only 1,000 words a day, in three months you’ll have a 100,000 word novel. That’s not a difficult task. Actually, that’s writing lazy if you have nothing else to do in life.

    I think the key is that it’s the first draft. That and I can type (old fashion like) about 70 words a minute.

    Everyone has their own pace for writing. Sometimes I think those who think negatively about quick writing are those who can’t write that quick. I don’t bleed words, I don’t fret over writing; I just write and enjoy.

    I say challenge yourself again. Fourteen days? Try for thirteen next time. 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment, Diane. I’ll aim for 13 next time.
      Your accomplishment is impressive! Great work!
      Perhaps one of the issues writers who look down on those capable of writing quickly have is over-analyzing. I know many an author who takes a long time to write their ‘first draft’ because they spend too much energy going back and editing what they’ve already written. That’s not me…I write it and then don’t read it again until I’m done and it’s time for the editing to begin.

  2. Pingback: New Release: WHEN SHADOWS FALL by Bruce Blake | Guild Of Dreams

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