I think it is important to listen to, read about, and question other authors. We learn from one another. Much of what I’ve learned about writing has come from the advice of another author, whether I’ve met them in person, read their blog, or listened to an interview.
An interview with Orson Scott Card, author of the popular science fiction novel Ender’s Game, was the NaNoWriMo giveaway for Day 20 of NaNoWriMo. Though I have not read any of Card’s books, I intend to see what he has to say in response to some of my most pressing questions. It seems that every author has a different response.
It’s exciting, however, to learn more about an author and his/her process so you can try it out for size. Maybe their advice doesn’t suit you. Maybe it does. I guess there is only one way to find out.
Card seems to have a different viewpoint than most other authors concerning the craft of writing, and I look forward to reading the interview in more detail when I get a chance.
It is Day 12 of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month.
How is your novel coming? They say that Week 2 of NaNoWriMo is the toughest, because writers have gotten over the initial excitement of writing a book and have come up against a brick wall. You doubt yourself, second-guess yourself, and begin listening to that inner-critic that drives you crazy. Don’t give up!
Each weekday during November, the Writer’s Digest website will be offering free tips for NaNoWriMo participants, called “giveaways.” If you click “read more,” you are required to submit an email address before you are allowed to download the “giveaway.”
This week’s giveaway is about pacing your novel, taken from Nancy Kress’ Elements of Fiction Writing: Beginnings, Middles & Ends.
A fast-paced novel increases tension, which intrigues readers and causes them to keep reading. Sometimes it can be difficult to keep the action escalating, but it is essential to plot. Without action, there is no conflict. And without conflict, there would be no story.
The following are tips to “quicken the pace of your story” from the giveaway piece written by Nancy Kress:
Start your story in the middle of a dramatic sequence, not before the drama commences.
This is a tough one for me. I don’t know about you, but I tend to “set the scene” before I make it to the action. However, I realize that when I read back over my work, I bore myself to tears. Maybe “setting the scene” is something I need to do in order to get started, but something I delete later.
Rely on dialogue. A lot of story can be carried by spoken conversation.
I believe that this is something I do well. For the longest time, I have worried that I put too much dialogue in my writing and that I need more description. It’s nice to know that I might be doing something right.
Keep backstory to a minimum. The more we learn about your characters through what they do now, in story time, the less you’ll need flashbacks, memories and exposition about their histories.
Whoops. I give my characters so much backstory it is probably impossible for the reader to form their own conclusions. I think backstory is necessary for the author, not so much for the reader.
Keep chapters short.
For some odd reason, I have always believed longer chapters meant I was writing “a real novel.” But I have noticed that books with shorter chapters are the books I finish more quickly.
Have these tips helped? What do you believe you can improve upon? What do you believe you’re doing well?
Because I was so inspired by the poem below, I decided to write my own Christmas poem. I love Christmas and everything about it – the special feeling I get when the tree is put up and we unpack the ornaments, the warmth that I feel when we drive through town at night and everyone’s lights are turned on, the taste of hot chocolate, marshmallows, and special Christmas cookies, memories from Christmas past, presents under the tree, and the Bible story that tells the tale of a miracle. The entire season just means so much to me and my family, and that is why I wanted to put these feelings into a poem to share with you.
Sitting round the Christmas tree,
under the glow of the lights,
twinkling and dazzling within the room,
everyone’s eyes are bright.
Laughter fills the air,
joy spreads everywhere,
as children share candy canes,
and speak of special reindeer.
Memories fill the minds of those
present in the jolly scene
where gifts are being passed around
wrapped in paper of red and green.
Ribbons and bows are on the ground,
hot chocolate on the table,
Christmas music in their ears
makes for a sweet, sweet sound.
The Bible lying on the table
flipped open to a certain page
a nativity scene on the mantel
where children stare of every age.
Stories stacked on a chair
telling stories of one remembered night
when Joseph and Mary made the trek
to a certain stable.
On Christmas Eve the family will gather
in a fit of excitement and wonder
the little ones waiting for Santa Clause
leaving cookies and milk on the counter.
As they go to bed they dream of treats
but remember this, as well,
Jesus died to save us all
and on this last note do I wish to dwell.
Keep in your heart the Christmas spirit
the joy, the love, and the laughter
and also the fire of God’s love, as well,
that forever and always he will keep lit.