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Writing a novel – when you’re used to writing tweets

Being naturally concise and a completer finisher doesn’t always benefit, especially during National Novel Writing Month when the aim is to get to 50,000 words by the end of November.  I’m a great one for sketching out my plot and then sitting back with a cuppa, resplendent in the success of having got from A to B.  So here are some of the ways I’ve motivated myself to expand a little and get that word count up.

1. When we’re discussing our latest read, my book group seems to get to the heart of a novel pretty damn quick.  So I attempted to write a list of discussion questions I’d like an imaginary group to discuss about my writing.  And sure enough, having imaginary readers helps me understand the kind of piece I’d like to write, as well as focusing my mind on some of the crunchier bits of plot that I haven’t yet sorted out.

2. I’ve sketched out some of the key scenes in my novel so I tend to think I can take a break.  But going back and making sure to focus on the details has been a good way to keep upping that word graph.  Whether it’s examining the nose hair of my main character or elaborating on the weather, there’s always a little more to clarify.

3. Unless I’m writing a historical piece, I tend to forget when exactly I’m setting something – ‘now’ seems to be my default position.  So one trick I’ve used is to look for opportunities to insert timely references to music, films and news that help root my story in a time period as strongly as in the place I’m trying to build.

4. The people we meet in everyday life don’t just exist in a vacuum, there’s a reason for how they act and think.  I’ve tried to see why my characters are doing something – and then add in a brief explanation of their actions with a flashback or attitude to enhance their credibility.

Please feel free to share your tricks below!



3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 9, 2011 9:24 pm

    The thing I’ve found gets the word count moving up is not being afraid to digress. If one thought leads to something unplanned let the character’s mind wander, I can always check back to see what they were supposed to be thinking about and bring us all back to the point but often the digression has proved more interesting.

  2. November 10, 2011 1:00 am

    Hey Steww, thanks for the comment – I agree that allowing yourself the digressions can be helpful. And after the constraints of short story writing it’s quite a luxury. Who knows, one of those digressions might just spawn #nanowrimo 2012….!

    • November 10, 2011 9:20 am

      The other thing to remember is when you are a part time writer like me and only adding bits each morning what feels like a big digression actually might only amount to a page of prose, not that big at all and a useful way to slow things down.

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