I sometimes have a lot of trouble with first lines. This pin definitely gives me a lot to work with, so that’s cool. I mean, yeah, a couple of them are a little cheesy. I think it’s a lot better than staring at my empty document for an hour before going over to my bookshelf and looking at how other people started their stories. Now that I think of it, either method is probably okay, just one involves less getting up.
Anyone else have crutch words (especially in first drafts when you’re fighting to get through a scene)? This pin covers a lot of the big ones for me, like “saw,” “walked,” “said” and “laughed.” Feeling words also get me, and since I found a pin for that too here’s one on the house. Not that I like to go crazy in the first drafts and try to make everything perfect, but heck. It’s useful. Even in first drafts, I could get stumped sitting there for an hour trying to come up with the right word… what, just me?
Livin’ the dream, am I right? But this pin really does have a good point. Some writers might parade around saying “when in doubt, kill someone.” And, I mean, I like their chutzpah, but I don’t reeeeeeally think that’s how it’s supposed to work. This is just an opinion, but killing a character when the plot loses steam kind of feels to me like an attempt to make things artificially interesting (unless there’s a plot-related purpose for the death of course). What I’m trying to say is that if your story lacks so much interest that you feel your only option is to kill a character, it miiiiight be your plot that needs looking at, my friend.
I think of it like this: your readers have spent a good part of your book getting attached to this character. They trust you. The character might be dear to them, and they might even be imagining how this character will go on in their life well after your book is over. So don’t do it just to do it, man. Trust me. I’ve been betrayed by plenty of character deaths before, only to think to myself “that was the single STUPIDEST thing ever and it didn’t need to happen, I hate whoever did this and I mean HATE.”
So yeah… just look at the pin. It’s good… erm, helpful… gah, whatever.
Everyone loves a good dialogue tip. I think my favorite would have to be about giving each character a voice (interviewing your characters outside of story can help with this). I mean, you know a character is developed well when you can tell who’s talking without any dialogue tags (but, I mean, sometimes dialogue tags are necessary… eh, that’s not the point). A good way to start is to think of one, just one, special thing about the way your character speaks. Here are some examples of this from my own characters:
Sabine is mostly quiet, but sometimes likes to say sarcastic stuff under her breath–and in her thought life, she’s like a whole other person.
River is very sparse and to-the-point, mostly responding to people with one- or two-word answers regardless of his current mood.
Ginger is the human equivalent of a run-on sentence and uses repetitive phrases a lot.
Cece notices details and is generally very… hmm… “aware.” And she sort of “thinks out loud” as it were, like she’s talking as she’s thinking, having an out-loud train of thought, which means lots of correcting herself, explaining and unfiltered opinions.
Em has a tongue of fire and a GIANT sass factor.
Getting to this one special thing is easier when you already know who your characters are. For example, I’ve known Ginger for quite a few years. I know that she has a jealous nature, can be sort of melodramatic, can be a little selfish, she loves a good burger and is a very messy eater, among other things. At her core, though, I see Ginger the artist, and I see that not just in her career choice but in her personality itself. I sort of liken her speaking style to the onward dragging of a paintbrush across the canvas of an abstract painting: colorful and at times random, sometimes with no particular destination in mind and sometimes with repetitive motion in a particular spot on the canvas. Not that I ever made that correlation before (wow it makes sense though), but I have a sense of Ginger’s personality and it comes out in how she talks.
So… get a sense of your character’s personality, I guess 😉
I also liked the reading dialogue aloud tip, because it actually helps more than you might think.
Pretty inspirational for NaNo time 😀 And it kind of hits home for me especially, because that’s one big reason I’ve embarked on a lot of the stories I have (you know, besides ideas dropping from the heavens and demanding to be written).
You’ll have much more fun writing for yourself, instead of writing like you have an audience. So go write your story this NaNo, the story that you want to read.