Sunday, 10 November 2013

NaNoWriMo teaches showing not telling


I am sure we are all aware of NaNoWriMo by now but if not I wrote about it in a recent blog that you can check out here.

There are many ways which people use to try and hit the 50,000 words needed to be a winner. Some do not use any constrictions which can lead to some rather stilted dialogue. Others insist on putting every characters full name each time they speak which makes no odds if you character is called Cher or Madonna but can significantly increase your word count if you are including Sir Major General Albert Santos Di Caprio. Others insist that you should never delete anything instead just scoring through and rewriting which in a way gives you double word count.

I personally want to hit the word count with something that faintly resembles a first draft and whilst I will not be adverse to changes all my don’ts to do nots if the need arises I am currently trying not to.

So how to hit a massive word count and retain something useable. Well the first rule of writing is always ‘show don’t tell’ and with my short stories I have sometimes been accused of rushing to a conclusion that could hold the reader’s attention for longer. So in the effort to attain greater word count and more showing less telling I have gone from writing this:

Abby’s mum had a stroke

To writing this:

As she sat down at the kitchen table she noticed the shopping list notepad had vanished.

‘Mum have you moved the notepad?’ Abby called into the other room.

‘Yes it’s in the top draw same as always.’

‘Did you look at it?’

No response

‘Mum I said did you look at it?’

Still no response. Abby hated it when she went into one of her sulks and was determined not to stand for it. She stomped into the lounge. As she walked through the doorway and was about to let rip she noticed her mum’s hand dangling over the side of the armchair.

‘Mum, mum are you okay?’ She rushed to the front of the chair. Her mum had a lopsided grin on her face and dribble coming out of the corner of her mouth. ‘Don’t worry mum it’s gonna be okay.’ Abby said as she grabbed the telephone and dialled nine nine nine.

And so we move from five words to one hundred and fifty four, a significant dent in my daily total and whilst it’s still just a first draft and not perfect, it holds a lot more meaning than the first sentence.

Thank you NaNoWriMo for helping me to improve my writing.

Have any of your found other ways that NaNo has helped?

Are there other ways your writing has been improved when you didn’t expect it to be?

2 comments:

  1. Everyone is freaking out about word count, and then they get frustrated when all NaNo gave them was a crappy draft they couldn't do anything with. To me, that sounds like a waste of a month. Good for you, Jo. You get 'em.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Katie. I think the idea of NaNo is great but some of the people on the forums just seem to want to hit the word count with no thought of the future of their writing. I hope always to improve with every piece of writing I do and NaNo should be no exception.

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