I began my writing career in drama, and when I start a new chapter of a novel, the first thing that comes to mind is the dialogue. Bad idea. When you come into the middle of a conversation, you always feel like you’re missing something, and I suspect my readers react the same way. So I went looking for a metaphor that would help me write an effective opening paragraph for every chapter. And to do that, I had to figure out what readers want at the beginning of a chapter.
And then I had a thought; starting a chapter is like entering a new room we have never been in before. What do readers want to know about that unknown room? Continue reading “Creating a Dynamite Four-Sentence Opening Paragraph”
My main difficulty when I switched from writing plays to novels was my use of pauses. It took me a long time to figure out that the time sense of a person conversing in real life or watching a play is very different from the time sense of someone reading prose. And that has repercussions in novel writing and the use of punctuation.
What’s Happening in Life?
In plays, movies and the reality they are imitating, a pause happens because something else is going on. Someone is thinking, reacting, showing emotion, waiting for attention or performing some task. Often the pause is used to heighten the emotion while we wait for something important to happen (see ‘Earned Pauses’ at the end of this article). Continue reading “In Writing, How Long is a Pause?”
One of the problems that often plagues authors is their writing productivity. It often seems like there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done. If an author is writing on the side, as opposed to a full-time job, then finding time to sit down and belt out the words can be difficult.
However, some writers are pounding out the words through a technique called sprinting. Much like the running equivalent, sprinting in the writing sense is defined as writing as many words as you can as fast as you can, for a short period of time. Usually, people who sprint set the clock at 20 to 40 minutes. Continue reading “Is Your Writing Productivity in a Slump? Try a Sprint”
Some of you may remember my post a while back about handwriting my books. It’s a habit that has served me well, and I’ve just finished my fourth book written this way: legal pads and slant-tipped sign pens. I have no way to prove quantitatively that writing this way promotes my creativity, but it would certainly seem to. Never before have I written four books in only thirteen months. But that could be a fluke, right?
When I began this handwriting journey, as soon as I had transcribed the words from the pad to the computer, I tossed the pad into the recycle bin. The text was safely embedded in Word; I didn’t need the handwritten words any more. It was my husband’s idea that I save them. For posterity, he said. Yeah, like anyone’s going to care, I thought, but I did start saving them. Then, with my last book, I got another idea. I wrote down the date I started each pad. I had always taken casual note of how long it took me to write a book, sometimes nine months, sometimes three, but I never clocked it exactly. This time, when I finished the book, I actually figured out the word count of each pad and using the dates, calculated how many words a day I was writing. Continue reading “How Fast Do You Write?”