05 November 2011

Novel Writing Tips for November

Okay, so for those worrying through NaNoWriMo, you’re through four days. This means you should have around 6700 words, with the hope of 8400 by day’s end.

What’s that? You’ve not gotten that far?

Let me offer some suggestions to jump-start your creative process.

First and probably the most important for doing the mad-dash novel writing that NaNoWriMo requires, remember that you don’t have to write in chronological order. Heck, your scenes don’t even have to be written in a logical order. This also means that if you know the ending, but not the beginning, you can just write what you already know, then go back and fill in the blanks. Just write the scene and rearrange later.

Next, consider additions. Early on, you have an advantage. The cast is still evolving. You’ve not established a lot of plot to harbor your difficulties. So why not add in a character? Need comic relief, add a wise cracking sidekick. Looking for the romantic angle, add a lover for one of the primary characters. Adding a character doesn’t make sense?

Um, you’re just trying to get writing, making sense comes later.

Oh, advantage of adding a nonsense character now – you can kill him off later when the book starts to flag again! Yup, the death of a character jump starts things as much as the addition of one does. In fact, at one point, you may need to contemplate killing off a primary character to either 1) make the plot work or 2) move along creatively. A death scene creates different reactions from different people, so just writing about reactions can easily get you three thousand words.

Speaking of reactions, tell the reader what your point of view character is looking at when they enter a room, forest, or car. Descriptive paragraphs fill pages with words. Think Robert Jordan or David Drake. They can make for many pages worth of words. And those words can be pared down once the story is completed.

I’ve heard some people expound on the joys of pages worth of dialogue. This really depends on how many soliloquies that you have your characters speaking. My dialogue tends to be quick shots of conversation, sometimes to fill in details, sometimes for character action interaction. They don’t expand my word count as much as a paragraph of description that lasts two pages.

Honestly, these techniques work outside of November as well. Just get the story written then revise once it’s completed. After all, Revision is Writing.

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