Writing Tip: Using Placeholders To Fast Draft Your Novel


Writers! I recently started using placeholders when typing out the first draft of my novel and the number of words I'm able to write in a writing session has dramatically increased. In the past, I could usually pump out around 800 words an hour. Now, with a combination of writing sprints and placeholders, I'm about to pump out 2,000 words an hour! 

What are placeholders? They're used to hold the place of something that you can come back and add in later. For example, in the past, I would write so slow because I would get hung up on little details like the color of someone's eyes, the name of the restaurant they were going to, or a song lyric I wanted to include. This would cause me to lose momentum while writing my story. Now, when I'm writing, if I can't quite remember something I do one of the following:

(insert Whit's husband's name here)

*look up Eric's eye color and mention it here!*

[find a song lyric to match this scene! Think sad but hopeful]

<Something is missing. Maybe rewrite? Want to pull more emotion from the reader. Needs sympathy mixed with anger.>

See how helpful placeholders are! And they can be used anywhere! If you're writing and you:

-need to describe or include a physical description, a setting, a song, or a new invention

-forget a character's eye color, hair color, name, etc.

-need to rework or fully flesh out a scene because something is missing

-know what needs to happen at a particular part of your novel, but aren't ready to write it yet

...then you can use a placeholder! As you've seen in my earlier examples, you can use anything you want to get that placeholder to stand out. However, in addition to those examples, also play around with highlighting your placeholders in different colors, or bolding the font. They key is to put something that will stand out, but also to be able to put something quickly so you can move on and continue writing. 

If you're struggling to fast draft your novel, then I highly recommend you utilize a combination of placeholders and word sprints. If you haven't already, try this method and let me know how it works for you. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Happy Writing!