by Lynn Hobbs
Have you ever been writing when words flow fast, and you hurry to make your point? It seems like your novel, or your character suddenly has a life of its own and takes over. It can be exciting when what you had in mind progresses into a new enlightening direction. In my case, I type quickly and continue.
Some authors chart and plot the entire book chapter by chapter and create the rise and fall of emotions and actions. Others write by what is referred to as ‘the seat of their pants’. I recommend a little of both to still be spontaneous. Having an idea or a plan in mind and ‘going with it’ is great but a list will help and save research time.
What lists? One on each character is a must, not only the obvious physical appearance; color of hair, eyes, weight, age, etc. but their traits as well. How would your hero or heroine react to a given situation? Stay true to their character.
Easy to say when a new direction or new idea develops and you don’t stop and think it through. You continue and later edit. At least that is what I do, and it works for me. It is not as time consuming as you may imagine.
After each chapter, I tighten up my words, sentence by sentence. I examine each line for structure, word content, and make any changes that are needed. Similar to a crossword puzzle, I enjoy rearranging a sentence, turning it around, to bring more of an oomph impact or help the flow along. Any sentence that does not send the story forward is removed. Some details are not necessary where others need revision.
What helps? I rely on the ‘find’ option of my word document. You can write as fast as you want without losing your train of thought with this available. Often I type in ‘the’ or ‘that’ in the find search option and count how many are on each page. Regardless, I try to reword the sentence and delete as many as possible.
I once critiqued a chapter for someone and found the word ‘she’ used twelve times on a single page. I brought it to her attention and suggested the author rewrite the three paragraphs. After deciding not to change it, the author later turned that novel into an audio book. The sound of so many ‘she’s’ stood out as if the narrator was lisping. It was distracting and interfered with the natural flow of the story.
Of course we all learn daily, I certainly do. In reading through my latest manuscript, I noticed several similar descriptions mentioning eyes. Typing in the word ‘eyes’ in the find search area brought a startling discovery. I had used ‘eyes’ over seventy times in two hundred and ninety- two pages. I deleted sixty of those and created more interesting descriptions. Lesson learned. The same principal applies to emotional response as well.
Happy fast writing!
Lynn Hobbs is the author of The Running Forward Series; a powerful faith and family saga, Book one, Sin, Secrets, and Salvation won 1st place in Religious Fiction 2013 by the Texas Association of Authors. Book two continues with River Town, and Hidden Creek will be released this year.
Thanks for the great advice, Lynn. I love the “find” tool in Word. I recently learned about weasel words like “that” and “had”. The find tool has been helpful in eliminating these. I also enjoy going back and tightening and reworking. It’s easier for me to write raw, back and forth dialogue and then go back and add in reactions and things:)
Yes, the “find” feature is great for weeding out those weasel words and for repeat words. I like to put my story in my Kindle and turn on the audio feature. Stiff dialogue and repeated words stand out.