That's Not Writing, That's Typing!

September 13, 2006

Issue #4 of A Novel in One Semester
by Mary Kay Zuravleff, copyright 2006

Stay with our novel-writing quest as we march toward 12K words by September 20, 2006. Losing a few participants last week is all the more reason to egg each other on. Several class members who made their quota reported an ability to reread their work and fluff up certain scenes, enhancing both their word count and their own understanding of what they were up to. No one bragged that any of our words were well-chosen or well-placed, only that we wrote them in our mission to move from the beginning to the middle of our novels.

My college education felt like 40 years of information stuffed into 4, and I often wonder what I might have learned if there were soaker hoses rather than fire hoses aimed at our brains. On the other hand, what a blast. Thatís the change of heart this week provided. What a feat it would be to transfer the intensity of our writing experience to the page, whether weíre writing a walk in the park or an assault on Everest. Donít hold back on our account!

Reach Out and Slap Someone
As we close in on 12K words, weíre looking for a fight. How could that characterís worst habit or secret be brought to light? Would her husband still love her? Would he lose his job? Oh, thereís a knock at another characterís office doorómind if I come in? Iíll only rob you blind. Or Iíll offer you exactly what you want, with some tangled strings attached. Just as weíre fast-forwarding process in this class, novels themselves fast-forward insight and action. Why tell the story of this particular day or life?

Your challenge this week is to make your characters squirm. Think of how boring the first few moves of a chess game are, then prepare to move your pawns one or two steps away from safety.

A novel can go in through the navel or groin, like a laparoscopic procedure, to explore the blood and guts within. So divorce or stay married, perhaps switching husband-wife roles. Start cutting up carrots and then slice everything in the kitchen. Or train for the marathon despite injuries and doubt. Car chases and trials arenít necessary as long as you captivate us.