Keeping it Fresh

30 August 2014

From author Dave Farland:

When you’re writing a long novel, sometimes as a writer you feel that you are getting stuck in a rut, that your prose has become repetitious, so it is important to find little ways to vary your work.

Most often, writing teachers will suggest that authors write sentences or paragraphs (or even chapters) of varying lengths.

For example, Ernest Hemingway is often considered the “master of the short sentence,” but in every story that he writes, when he gets up to the place where a thematic climax comes in, he will suddenly write long sentences—as long as three or four hundred words even.

. . . .

Anyone who has ever suffered through bipolar disorder knows that even a single protagonist can suffer through violent mood swings that seem to have nothing to do with what life throws at them. Thus, a character may be on top of the world one day and suicidal the next. So the emotional tone in a novel can vary widely, too.

I’ve seen authors who struggle to put in characters who are wildly different, so that each person is highly individual, and that can be fun, since it pushes you to really delve deeply in order to create interesting characters. Thus, you can look at the works of Arthur Conan Doyle in Sherlock Holmes, and find many interesting characters with odd habits, unusual costumes, and so on.

Sometimes you can simply alter your style in small ways to good effect. In John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, the author will go for fifty pages of dialog where the beats—the character’s internal thoughts and the descriptions of the external settings and character actions—are all skillfully interwoven through the dialog.

Link to the rest at David Farland and thanks to Eric for the tip.

Here’s a link to David Farland’s books

David Farland, Fiction Fundamentals, Writing Advice

5 Comments to “Keeping it Fresh”

  1. I write a series and have no problem keeping it fresh. I just go with the things life can throw at people and let my protagonist deal with them. Since he has regular sidekicks, they, too, may encounter major problems. Besides, there is also travel. And since I write mysteries, each case has its unique features.

  2. I find speed helps. I never found a book going stale that I wrote in 4-8 weeks. Longer than that, and it becomes a struggle.

    • I find speed helps. I never found a book going stale that I wrote in 4-8 weeks. Longer than that, and it becomes a struggle.

      So that’s my frelling problem! Lack of speed.

      Thanks, Aleksandr.

    • Can I ask what that 4 – 8 weeks includes?

      Are you including the pre-writing conceptualizing and planning, or just the writing of the actual manuscript?

      Also, are you talking 4 – 8 weeks to a fully polished work ready to go on sale, or just to the first complete draft?

  3. Love Dave Farland. He’s a super-cool dude, very supportive of indies, too.

    But this totally reminded me of the Creme Fraiche episode of South Park. “Remember to keep it FREEEEESH.”

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