As I gear up for the writing retreat in a few weeks, I am collecting several documents into a binder that I believe might help writers with their process and product of writing. For myself, I’ve tried to list my struggles with my novel as I write, so I can find resources to assist me as I continue to craft my novel.
One of the habitual hurdles I continually face in writing my novel is finding the perfect words to connect characters to their dialogue. I keep relying heavily on “say/said” before and after dialogue while writing this draft. I’ve found several lists to help me replace the words when I edit, and I’ve compiled my own worksheet with the replacements I find most useful and sophisticated, since some of the resources were geared toward grade school writers.
Also, another one of my struggles is creating the atmosphere I am visualizing as I write. I’ve focused heavily on characterization and dialogue–which is most likely because my preferred style of writing is that of a screenplay–rather than using imagery to create the world around my characters. So often my notes to other friends who write and former students suggest adding more sensory details to help the writer envision a sense of place. However, I find myself lacking that as well.
I believe this is partly due to the fact that I am using a very familiar setting for the first novel in my trilogy–a town based on the one I grew up in. It’s easy for me to picture where my characters interact, but I am conscious that my reader will have a harder time visualizing just how quaint the town is because of the lack of description within my current draft.
A tool that I am using to help me build my world is creating a list of items I need to research related to the same time period and location. I’m collecting photographs, memoirs, historical documents, and lists of popular songs, names, slang, etc. Unfortunately, once my characters leave their world via portal and enter a liminal space, I will not have this type of research to rely on. When that occurs, my plan is to turn to masters of portal fiction and fantasy world-building like Neil Gaiman, Lev Grossman, Phillip Pullman, C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll, and JK Rowling.
I am curious to hear from any writers who have similar struggles or need ideas to help them with their own. Our struggles should unite us, not stop us, and no matter what, we should always #writeeverydamnday!