Writing Itinerary: The Michael Moorcock Method

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For those of you who are unfamiliar with his works, Michael Moorcock is a legendary fantasy author known mostly for his Elric of Melniboné stories. Much of his work, especially early in is career, falls into the more pulpy category of writing. In order to scrape together more regular paychecks, he devised a method of writing his novels very very quickly, usually getting a first draft done in 3-10 days.

Roughly this meant he could write about 60,000 words in a weekend. And you thought NaNoWriMo was tough.

I think having this ability to burn through first drafts is especially useful to self-published authors who need to keep churning out books in order to stay relevant in the eyes of the internet public.

Much of Moorcock’s method comes down to intensive pre-writing. Not only did he outline his scenes, but he made sure to have readily available lists of themes and objects to draw from. Writing pulp fiction also had the benefit of allowing him to fall back on standard story cycles in order to keep forward momentum going.

Essentially his stories were incredibly formulaic, making them easier to write. The action wasn’t that important because it was the standard fair people expected from an adventure story.

Instead, Moorcock focused on the imagery because he figured that was what would separate his work from other pulp novels. Lists of these images, objects, and themes were also what allowed him to push through whenever he felt snagged, giving him on the spot inspiration that he could draw from.

If you want to read more about his method, you can check out this interview he did on the subject.

I don’t know that I’ll ever be able or willing to write 60,000 words over the course of a weekend, but I think some of his methods are worth trying out if even to boost my word count slightly. Having lists of writing prompts in the form of objects or themes seems like a really helpful tool. I haven’t implemented any of them yet, but I probably will at some point in the future.

If you’ve tried his method or have any thoughts on it, please feel free to leave a comment and share!

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2 thoughts on “Writing Itinerary: The Michael Moorcock Method

  1. I guess most writers have this kind of list but in a rather vague form and stored somewhere deep in memory or even in a subconcious part of the mind.

    Might prove useful to get it out and put on the paper to clearly see the possible options when stucked 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

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