November is over. NaNoWriMo is over. I won, by the way, which I guess you can tell by the widget on the right. December is a great time to think about what we’ve learned in the past year. Now that The Woods is steeping for the foreseeable future, I’ll focus on what I learned last month, while writing The Great American Young Adult Novel. Ahem.
When people talk about NaNo, it’s all about a frenzy of words, about muting your inner editor, about speed and quantity. But I’ve learned that I don’t have to rush. I don’t have to focus on quantity over quality. That doesn’t mean I can spend an hour on one sentence, of course. But I can sit and think about what I want to say and how. I can even stop to check on a fact or detail so that I can move forward without leaving a hole that will need to be filled later. There are already plenty of those, anyway.
On the other side, I’ve learned what I need to do better. Physical telling is my nemesis. Too many head nods, and widened eyes, and raised eyebrows, and sighs, and deep breaths, and crossed arms, and smiles, grins, or smirks. Good writers find other ways to add beats between lines of dialogue.
My other crutch is the word “I” in a first person narrative. Way too many sentences begin with I. Sometimes I vary it by starting a sentence with a participle, which I’m always careful not to leave dangling, but too many of those is just as bad. Writer friends, how do you overcome this problem?
In the past I’ve made New Year’s resolutions that involved finding an agent and finishing manuscripts. This time I’m going to focus on craft.
My resolution for 2013 is to find better ways to vary my sentences and add interiority.
If you participated in NaNo, what did you learn this year? If not, what did you learn this past year about yourself?