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We’re just over halfway through National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and if you’re anything like the authors with whom I work, you may be hitting that mid-novel slump.
You know the one.
The muddy middle of the novel has you feeling exhausted, frustrated, uninspired, or any other of the numerous adjectives we may use to describe that point in the novel when there’s a lot going on, all the things need to go somewhere, and we may not be entirely certain (yet) where they need to go. At the end of the day, the middle of NaNoWriMo—like the middle of your novel—is difficult. And avoiding overwhelm to get beyond the slump becomes the primary goal. So, how do you keep writing when the writing is hard?
Lynette Burrows for Writers In The Storm provides Easy Solutions For When Writing Gets Too Darn Difficult. A far cry from the usual planning or outlining advice you may expect, Lynette reminds you to check in with yourself. Are you getting enough oxygen? Water? Are you moving enough? Getting enough sleep? Getting the right nutrition? All of these lifestyle factors affect not only your focus but your body’s ability to stay focused. And getting through the muddy middle requires focus. While adopting healthy lifestyle behaviors is always important, adopting healthy lifestyle behaviors while writing your novel or, really, pursuing any big goal, is critical to success. So treat yourself right so you can treat your book right.
And perhaps you’re doing all the right things but you’ve found it increasingly difficult to remain focused on your novel because of a number of factors: relationship issues, moving, job loss, illness, or a death in the family, something else. Whatever is going on in life, don’t let your writing goals add to an already stressful time. While handling stress is itself an artform (one for which I’m still learning technique, if I’m being honest), there are ways to alleviate some of that writerly stress you may be putting on yourself. Larry J. Leech II for The Write Conversation provides techniques for How To Handle Those Pesky Stressors Every Writer Battles. In the article, Larry shares five de-stressors for writers, and the simplicity of those de-stressors may surprise you. Larry discusses things like realistic goals, adopting a comfortable pace, tapping into your own knowledge, and more.
Now, maybe it’s not the writing itself that has you slumped in the middle of the novel. Perhaps you’re stuck on realism, worried that your future readers won’t be able to picture key scenes in your novel. If you’re noodling over the future reader’s experience, help them visualize your characters and world by creating a balance between action and dialogue. C. S. Lakin for Live Write Thrive wrote a helpful article on How To Show Meaningful Character Action In Dialogue Scenes that is worth the few minutes it takes to read and digest. When you have a scene in which dialogue takes center stage and you need your readers to learn something critical while also keeping the flow of action alive to avoid stagnation, dropping in a few action beats to help your readers along goes a long way. After all, our human conversations don’t happen in a vacuum. We touch our faces, run our fingers through our hair, shift from one foot to the other, grab a fidget object, blow our noses, whatever. And your characters will need to display these human behaviors to come across as believably human. Lakin talks through the how.
But adding details and behaviors to scenes shouldn’t bog down readers either. If you’ve ever read a book that drones on for pages and pages about a random object or building (we all can probably name a title or two), you know how tiring—and often put-down-able—a book like that can be. So if you find yourself wondering how many details are too many, check out One Well-Chosen Detail: Write Juicy Descriptions Without Overwhelming Your Reader by April Davila for Jane Friedman. April gives an example of a character description that allows readers to picture what you intend without going too generic or too overboard and includes a helpful exercise to get you thinking about and writing descriptions in interesting ways.
And if you’re nodding to the advice so far but find yourself wondering how exactly you can go about detecting a scene that needs a little sprucing up in the action beat or description department, Janice Hardy for Fiction University has for you Telling Yourself To Show: How To Identify Flat Scenes. If you’re reading through your draft, no matter how many revisions you’ve done, and something feels off, read Janice’s account about identifying the issue, and look through your draft with her list of questions to ask yourself during the “something is off” moments in your novel.
Some of you are already past the writing and revising stages (look at you go!) and are thinking about or building strategy around future publication. An author bio is one of those must-have items, whether you’re building your website, pitching to agents or editors, or creating your book’s back matter. However, writing an author bio is all about concision and brevity. Check out Crafting The Perfect Author Bio: A Guide For Fiction And Non-Fiction Writers by Laurence O’Bryan for #PublishingReinvented to find key elements for your bio. Then, it’s just about massaging the language.
- Beating Writer’s Block by Kelli McKinney for Almost An Author
- Easy Solutions For When Writing Gets Too Darn Difficult by Lynette Burrows for Writers In The Storm
- Get Your Body Ready For Writing by Daphne Gray-Grant for Publication Coach
- How Teamwork Makes Us More Productive by Ann Gomex for Publication Coach
- Video: How To Break Through Writer’s Block During NaNoWriMo by Abbie Emmons for Abbie Emmons
- How To Handle Those Pesky Stressors Every Writer Battles by Larry J. Leech II for The Write Conversation
- Keep On Writing: A Round-Up Of Inspiring Quotes To Get You To The End by Paula Munier for Career Authors
- Permission For The Dismissed Creative by Angela Yeh for DIY MFA
- When Will You Be A ‘Real Writer’? by Tiffany Yates Martin for FoxPrint Editorial
- Writing Will Be There When You Need It by Nathan Bransford for Nathan Bransford
- Video: 7 Figure Fiction: How To Use Universal Fantasy To Sell Your Books To Anyone By T Taylor by S.D. Huston for S.D. Huston
- Podcast: Best Advice: Character Development + Worldbuilding by Valerie Francis and Melanie Hill for Story Nerd
- Biological Responses To Anger by Sue Coletta for Killzoneblog.com
- Can The Overall Theme Be Stated In The Form Of An Irreconcilable Good-Versus-Good Or Evil-Versus-Evil Dilemma? by Matt Bird for The Secrets of Story
- Can You Start A Novel With Dialogue? (Here Are 9 Novels That Do!) by Bryn Donovan for Bryn Donovan
- Classy Intensifiers by Ann Gordon for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers
- Podcast: Craft Jam: Nail Your Narration by Gabriela Pereira and Christa Vande Vegte for DIY MFA
- Do The Characters Consistently Have To Choose Between Goods Or Between Evils Instead Of Choosing Between Good And Evil? by Matt Bird for The Secrets of Story
- Podcast: Feminist Fantasy With Laura Bates by Sacha Black for Sacha Black
- Video: How To Incorporate Tropes In Your Writing by Morgan Hazelwood for Morgan Hazelwood
- How To Show Meaningful Character Action In Dialogue Scenes by C. S. Lakin for Live Write Thrive
- Is A Thematic Question Asked Out Loud Or Clearly Implied In The First Half And Left Open? by Matt Bird for The Secrets of Story
- Podcast: NaNoWriMo Week 3 — Raising The Stakes by Mary Robinette Kowal, DongWon Song, Erin Roberts, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler for Writing Excuses
- One Well-Chosen Detail: Write Juicy Descriptions Without Overwhelming Your Reader by April Davila for Jane Friedman
- Plot Your Story Using The Feynman Learning Technique by Garry Rodgers for Killzoneblog.com
- Pro Tips From A NaNo Coach: How To Write A Clean(ish) Fast Draft by Jesse Q. Sutanto for National Novel Writing Month
- Video: Showing Vs Telling In Writing – What’s The Difference? by Tim Grahl for Story Grid
- Switching Writing Voices: 3 Tips by Anne Janzer for Anne Janzer
- Telling Yourself To Show: How To Identify Flat Scenes by Janice Hardy for Fiction University
- The 3 Types Of Plot Goals by September C. Fawkes for MyStoryDoctor
- The Expanded Ultimate Story Checklist: Does The Story Reflect The Way The World Works? by Matt Bird for The Secrets of Story
- Tightening Our Prose: Redundancy by D. Wallace Peach for Story Empire
- What Is Passive Voice Misuse? by Sarah Rexford for The Book Designer
- What Should I Say About The Near Future Date by Oren Ashkenazi for Mythcreants
- Why You Want To Become A Better Self-Editor by Diana Stout for Writers In The Storm
- Working With A Freelance Book Editor: How To Help Your Editor And Save Money by Corina Koch Macleod and Carla Douglas for The Book Designer
- Writing: What’s A Story Chain? by Linda S. Clare for Linda S. Clare
- Book Metadata, Keywords And Amazon Category Changes: Help Readers Find Your Book by AskALLi Team for Self Publishing Advice
- The Mindset And Business Of Selling Books Direct With Russell Nohelty by Joanna Penn for The Creative Penn
- Podcast: The One Where NYT Bestsellers Beth And Boyd Morrison Explain Why Every Book Should Have Dragons by J.D. Barker, Christine Daigle, and Kevin Tumlinson for Writers, Ink.
- Spotify Premium Rolls Out Audiobooks In The Us — Including Indies Through Findaway Voices by Dan Holloway for Self Publishing Advice
- Crafting The Perfect Author Bio: A Guide For Fiction And Non-Fiction Writers by Laurence O’Bryan for #PublishingReinvented
- The Realities Of Indie Publishing And Writing Romance With J. Sterling by Rachel Wharton and Laura Granger for Kobo Writing Life
- Maximizing Your Success With Book Awards And Contests by Penny Sansevieri for Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
- Publishing A Book In 2023: 19 Must-Know Tips And Tricks by Omer Redden for The Book Designer
- Video: How To Sell An Audiobook On Findaway Voices By Spotify by Julie Broad for Book Launchers
- Podcast: Indie Author Magazine Informs The Self-Publishing Community by Howard Lovy for Self Publishing Advice
- Why Authors Need A Personal Brand: Advice On How To Make It Happen by Jessica Sorentino for Build Book Buzz
- Traditional Publishing Is Alive And Thriving And Different by John Gilstrap for Killzoneblog.com
- Video: Should I Do The 35% Or 70% Royalty Rate On My Ebook With Amazon KDP by M.K. Williams for M.K. Williams
- 7 Strategies For Social Media Marketing by Steven Capps for A Writer’s Path
- Podcast: How To Write A Book Pitch The Correct Way by Penny Sansevieri for Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
- Podcast: Smart And Simple Strategies For Holiday Book Marketing by Penny Sansevieri for Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
- 7 New Agents Actively Seeking Horror, Thrillers, Westerns, Military, Speculative Fiction, Nonfiction, Kidlit And More by Erica Verrillo for Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity
- Video: No Book Sales On Amazon KDP? Do This! by Dale L. Roberts for Self-Publishing with Dale
- Podcast: Our Opinions Are Correct
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