Friday, November 8, 2013

NaNoWriMo Advice Part 2

It's Friday!!!!!!

Which means we have the weekend to catch up on our word counts for NaNoWriMo. If you're one of the lucky people who have Veterans Day off on Monday - congrats! You get more writing time. :)

NaNoWriMo is even hosting the FIRST EVER official writing marathon tomorrow! You can learn about it here: Anyone planning on participating?

For those of you not doing NaNoWriMo... I'm sorry for you having to deal with my talking about it all of the time. Seriously, if you want me to write about something else - just yell at me.

But not today. Today, I am answering more questions people had for writing their novels. I was going to limit myself to only one NaNoWriMo post per week, but I had several questions so I felt I needed to do another post. I'll think of something else to write about on Monday - I promise!

Onward to writing questions! Today we'll talk about description and when you're stuck on transitions.

Including description of places/people during dialogue heavy scenes. 

I'm not going to lie - I've been having problems with this too the last few days. I was working on a scene where my main character was in a fight with her boyfriend, and I couldn't think of how to describe the scene for the life of me. I ended up just writing dialogue because I couldn't think of anything else to do.

Then, yesterday, I was writing a scene with another character - and the description was just fine! It was then that I realized my problem.

I knew the other character WAY better than the first one I was trying to describe. I know exactly what he looks like, his mannerisms, his personality, etc. The other one... I have somewhat of an idea, but not as well as the other one. It makes it SO MUCH harder to describe them during dialogue heavy scenes. So that's my first piece of advice. Get to know your characters. Take some time to really flesh them out. Find photos of what you think they would look like. Write down their habits and mannerisms.  Know them like you know your best friend.

You also need to observe people while they talk. What are their facial expressions? Do they use their hands a lot? Are they fidgeting or holding anything? Is there noise in the background distracting them? If it does distract them - how do they handle it? Is there a scent in the location they are in?

Take some time this weekend to go somewhere that's easy to people-watch and take notes. Then, make a list of as many descriptive words of their mannerisms as you can. Use this list as a reference for later.

Also - don't be afraid to just have some back and forth dialogue. Don't do this all of the time - that's more of a script. However, especially if it's only two characters talking, it's okay to have just back and forth for a few lines. In fact, John Green did that a bit in The Fault in Our Stars when he just needed some dialogue to move the story along.

Pushing through the part right after the beginning to get to the middle - if that makes any sense. 

Yes, that makes complete sense. At least to me it does - so you're in luck!

Transitions from part to part of your story can be rough. I struggle with it all of the time! It can be so tempting to just fill in the gaps with little scenes. However, this can make your story drag on and become boring. For NaNoWriMo when you're just trying to get your words in this is okay... but in the end those scenes will probably get cut.

I would say it's time for you to take some time out and work on outlining. I'm a HUGE advocate of planning your novel. Yes, you need to be flexible. Sometimes your story can change as you write - which is awesome. Your novel is a living thing and it needs to breath and change. You can adjust your outline as you go. However, when you have a plan, it makes it easier to fill in those transitions.

Let's say you have three acts to your story. A, B, and C. I'm assuming you're in A, but you need to get to B. The dreaded middle of your novel. (For some of us - the middle is really difficult to do well!)

What does point B look like? Who is there? Where are they? What's the purpose of point B? What needs to happen in order for the events in this act to start? Stick to that alone. ONLY what needs to happen.

It's times like this it's actually okay to tell vs. show while you're writing. Sometimes, you just need to say that time has passed. In fact, even JK Rowling did this at times in Harry Potter. There are moments when all you need to do is say "Hermione was in the hospital for a few weeks." That's it. Then move on. It can be so tempting to try and go into detail about every single thing that happened those two weeks. But guess what? If it's not actually relevant to the story - say that time passed, then move on.

If all else fails - skip it for now. Seriously. I used to NEVER want to skip around in my novel. However, there are times I get stuck at a certain point and don't know how to move on. Yet, I know what's going to happen in a couple chapters or scenes later. When this happens I simply type in [Enter this type of scene later here] and I go onto what I know happens next.

There will be times when you write those future scenes and suddenly you know what needed to happen earlier. Then you can go back and fill in the gaps.

I hope this helps you all in your writing adventures this weekend!

As always - if you have other questions or really need someone to help you talk through some novel stuff - or if you need to vent - I'm here! Feel free to email, comment, Tweet, Facebook, -whatever me at anytime this month. (Or any other time of year for that matter.) Sometimes, all you need is someone to bounce ideas off of and you're ready to get to writing again.

What writing advice do you need this weekend? Any NaNoWriMo goals for the next few days?


  1. Good advice. Sometimes my story is rather dialogue heavy because for some reason that just seems easier to do and I don't have the time to fix it. Balancing dialogue and prose was always difficult for me and I tended to write far less of it, I actually surprised myself when I started to write it so much but it works for my story, or so I think, no definite answer possible just yet :)

    1. I'm glad you thought it was helpful! My stories get dialogue heavy too. I love thinking of conversations between people! So it can be hard to balance sometimes.


Share with me your thoughts! They make me smile.