beats firsthand experience for writing authentic sensory details. I know of two
authors who walked barefoot in the snow, one who slurped raw turtle eggs, and
another learned how to fire a flintlock rifle.
my novel, my protagonist must crawl through a tunnel while wearing a long
skirt. The scene needed details. I considered crawling through a plastic tube
on a kids’ climbing apparatus, but those tunnels are significantly bigger than
the one in my novel. I constructed a small tunnel by balancing a sofa cushion
over a chair arm and an end table. I put on my one long skirt and made the
crawl. My first discovery was I couldn’t make it through on my hands and knees.
I had to drop down to my elbows. My protagonist’s sleeves would get wet and
dirty. Then my lower back hit the top, so I had to slide forward in almost a
combat crawl. Her poor outfit! Then the knot I’d tied in the skirt to keep it
out of the way came undone. Of course my furniture construction project was a cushier
option than the stone tunnel facing my main character, but the details still helped
me improve the scene.
I opened my manuscript
and selected a bit less than a page then checked the word count. After a few tries,
I discovered that 249-words landed at the end of a sentence. Then I copied and pasted
that section into a new file and tried to imagine myself as an agent or editor
reading it cold. I asked these questions.
opening compelling? How
many characters appear in the first 250 words? Is
it clear who these characters are and what their relationships are? Is
the reader given a clue about the novel’s main problem? Is
the genre of the novel obvious? Can
the reader tell where the scene takes place?
is a lot to be answered on a single page. Certainly the most important consideration
is having a compelling opening.
answers are: The
first paragraph still needs work. 4 Yes Maybe
Deborah Halverson is having a contest on her blog, DearEditor.com. The winner gets a free 10-page critique. The contest is for any type of fiction. Deborah's presentation at the fall SCBWI-MI retreat received rave reviews. I wish I'd been able to attend.
I never do NaNoWriMo. Most Novembers, I use the excuse that I'm in the middle of revising, but I have other reasons.
I trust my process. I write by working every day, unless I’m ill, traveling or
extremely busy. Writing every day is a luxury, and I cherish it. Churning out a
specific word count daily would make writing a chore.
there are good and bad writing days. In the end, word counts are irrelevant. One
great sentence can make a good writing day. Cutting a few thousand words can make
a better one.
I’m not much of a joiner. I wish all the participants of NaNoWriMo luck,
inspiration and great writing days. It’s just not for me.