Dublin System: Now you can improve your word count

Why do you call it the Dublin System?

Because it keeps on Dublin and Dublin.

You should know that now it’s much easier to write loads in a short space of time.

For years as a writer, I have been doing it wrong. I was always concerned about page counts. You could see me worrying about how many pages a piece of writing was.

Do you want to know what the problem is?

I’m a lazy person. I’m an even lazier writer.

This style impacted my work. In the struggle to get pieces to the right page count, I would start adding in filler words. You would have characters that would chime in with redundant “Yups” and “Ok”. They killed the pacing of the work, but hey we’re getting to the 90-page mark using the least amount of energy.

You probably won’t be surprised to hear this, but this would lead to trouble in practice. Scripts and writing would look the right amount, but there would be something missing. The work would seem a little, empty.

That was until I took a course on productivity for writers on Udemy. In it, there was a spreadsheet that was all about tracking your daily word count.

I’m not a fan of counting the words because first of all, it made me realise how few words I would actually write. Second of all, I like to write everything out with pen and paper first. Counting the words would just add on time that I didn’t want to spend.

I decided to humour the course and did the word counts. You know what, doing them actually turned out to be a turning point.

At the same time, I was also providing a script editing service on Fiverr. Most of the jobs had involved spelling adjustments and making some notes.

That all changed when I got hired by a crazy guy.

Let me tell you about the crazy guy.

The crazy guy showed up saying that he just needed a quick editing job. It started inauspiciously, as these things often do. Then the red flags began to fly not long after that. He hired me on Friday and needed it done for Sunday. For an editing job, where you’re just doing spell checking that is fine.

Here’s the thing though, he wasn’t able to send me an editable document. That was worrisome. He was able to send me a photocopy of the script. That was useless because I wasn’t able to upload it to my screenwriting software.

The only way that I was going to get it finished on time was by typing out the whole script myself and editing as I go. The script was 20,000 words long. It took me 24 hours approx across the Friday, Saturday and Sunda to get the work finished.

The crazy guy kept saying that it wasn’t right.

He kept niggling with me. It was always about the alignment. He kept asking for specific sentences to appear at certain points of the page. I asked him to make a list of changes that he wanted and would do it the next day. Keep in mind that this whole time over the weekend he asks for updates on the progress. I keep asking for an editable document to which he replies that he will send one when he gets back in. The editable script is never sent. I’m firing on through with the typing and am enjoying the restrictions that I have.

Here’s the essence of that correspondence

Him: “On page three can you move the introduction of the character to the top.”

Me: “I’ll have to space things out a little more, you OK with that?”

Him: “It needs to be at the top.”

Me: Check your inbox.

Him: Got it. Page four could you change the semicolon to a comma.

Me: Yeah, look it’s late here, and I’m up early tomorrow/today. Read through the script and make a list of any further changes you want made and I’ll do that for you for free tomorrow. Hold off on sending it to this producer guy OK?

Him: I’m going to send it through to him now. Hope there aren’t any mistakes.

Me: Don’t send it, please. Read through the script and send me a list of the changes you want. I’ll speak to you tomorrow.

I go to sleep, wake up to the following message.

Him: YOU FUCKED ME! YOU FUCKED ME! YOU HAVE FUCKED ME! I sent the script through and then noticed that there are loads more that I want changed. This was my big chance, and you have fucked me.

Moral of the story: If you enter a relationship with someone and more than one red flag starts to fly, walk away.

In crazy guys defence, this was all my fault.

I saw the red flags, but I kept on sailing into the storm. I am thankful for the experience though as it gave me a unique insight into my own writing and writing in general. The experience got me fired up.

Length o’ things

The experience gave me a baseline on how long it would take to write a certain amount of words in a certain amount of time.

This lead to my development of what I called the Dublin system.

It takes me 24 hours of pure typing to write 20,000 words.

Therefore it would take 12 hours to write 10,000. 6 hours to write 5000, 3 to write 2500 and so on down the line.

You probably think that is slow that’s just fine. I’m not competing with you I’m competing with me, and now I’ve found a gauge by which to measure my writing speed.

For my and your future reference here’s

Kieran Majury’s rough guide to an average length of things.

Film script: 20k words

Play (One-hour length): 10k

200-page book: 60k words.


These are approximations, don’t treat them as gospel.

There’s a handy website called reading length that you should check out, gives you an idea bout the length of books. So if you’re looking to write the next Game of Thrones it could be helpful.

Screenwriting software Celtx has several blog posts about how elements of screenplays breakdown. They’re worth a read.

Dublin system

This helped me develop the Dublin system.

If you’re a writer how do you tackle a piece of writing?

I’m still working on the answer to that question. I’ve gone through various methods. Trying to get the mental images translated into words. It has happened with varying degrees of success.

I realised that what you might need to do is break the task down into smaller bits. I need to know roughly where I am going. If I don’t have a rough idea of what I’m doing, I tend to go off in massive tangents. The last thing I wrote without a set route went way off course.

I hated it, resented writing it as I went but I stuck it out, and once I finished it I never looked at it again. The script went so off course. I didn’t have a clear direction for it to go in so trying to restructure it wasn’t worth the hassle.

The Dublin system works me up to do a full draft on a project. You start with a low word count, like 320 words. Write a synopsis of what is going to happen through the course of the script. You then write 625 words adding more detail. Then 1250 words before doubling it to 2500 words before 5000 words.

If you’re like me and you’re writing a play, then the next step is the 10k word count.

Zoom and enhance

You might be wondering what the point of these different drafts are, let me tell you.

You know the cliched cop show were the team are trying to find the suspect on some CCTV footage, then you hear that line that exists only on cheesy cop shows, “Zoom and enhance”. That’s the point of the Dublin system, you’re zooming and enhancing on the story you want to tell.

You start out with a few hundred words, that’s the long grainy wide shot.

Then you “zoom and enhance” you got 2000 words and you’re getting a more clear picture, it’s still pixelated and the image isn’t clear, but that’s okay because you.

“Zoom and enhance” alright it’s looking better you’re closer in the right area and it’s more apparent what you want to do.

Just one more “zoom and enhance”.

This is your first draft, the image is clear and you know the story that you want to tell. With your next draft, you might need to zoom out again and adjust the view ever so slightly but you’ll be doing more enhancing as you make the writing more defined.

Remeber to zoom and enhance.

Beware the Dublin system.

The Dublin system is good for getting out that initial draft. That first draft, like many a first draft, will be shit.

There are other factors that you need to take into consideration. Factors like structure and if you structure your script well, then the rewriting will be less of a head melt.

I mean it will still be head melt, but you’ll know what you need to do now.

At some point I’m going to talk about structure, but not here.

If you’re a writer, I hope that you found this useful. If you’re interested in writing, I hope that this helped declutter some of the myths that surround the craft.

Be warned that I’m no expert nor will I ever be one. If this helps you write easier, thank you for reading. If you read this and thought I was talking out my hoop also thank you.

Sometimes going the wrong way helps you see the right way that much better.

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