Saturday, June 6, 2015

One Writer's Alphabet Soup To Writing a Novel


photo courtesy google.com/images
"When I was having that alphabet soup, I never thought that it would pay off." --Vanna White

A writer subconsciously develops her own alphabet soup when it comes to writing a novel--those key elements, basic rules, discoveries, weaknesses to watch for, areas to develop, exploratory tangents, and microscopic and telescopic revisions that take her to the finished product. I discovered this when I reviewed journal entries I recorded during the time I wrote my first book. I recently reviewed those notes while my current WIP simmered on the back burner for a few days. What an education--there was something for each letter of the alphabet!

One Writer's Alphabet Soup to Writing a Novel

A...active voice...action...action words...atmosphere
B...backstory (enough but not too much)...beginning (jump in)
C...causality...character development...clarity...clich├ęs...complications...conflict...connections
...consistency...craft
D...description...detail...development...dialect...dialogue...discovery
E...edit...emotion...end linked to beginning...ending (satisfying)...energy...essence
F...flexibility...focus...foreshadowing...frame
G...genre...goals...grammar...growth (character and author!)
H...heart...historical accuracy...hook...human dignity
I...imagery...inciting incident...infinite-verb phrase openings (“Looking up slowly, she…”)
J...jell...journal...journey...joys
K...kaleidoscope...kernel...knead...knit
L...landscape...language..listen...location...loose ends (tied up)
M...magical...main character as problem solver (not bystander)...malleable...metaphor...middle slump...motivation...mystery
N...names...narration...narrative arc...narrator
O...obstacles...opening...overthinking (as in, don't!)
P...pace...page turners...patterns...pauses...place...placing character (where doesn’t want to be)...plot...plot holes...plot lines...plot points...plot twists...point of view...punch...punctuation
Q...quest...questions (and answers)...quotes
R...reading level...redundancy (check by using document's 'Find' feature)...resolution...revision
S...satisfying...scene...sensory details...sentences ending with prepositional phrase...sentence variety...serendipity...setting...show (don't tell)...sparkle...spelling...stakes...story structure... storytelling...style...subplot ...supporting characters...surprise...symbolism
T...tenses...tension...theme...threads...tightened form...title...timeline...tone...transitions...triggers
U...understandable...unexpected...unique
V...values...verb tense...viewpoint...vocabulary...voice
W...weak words (weed out)...wonder...word choice...word count...world building
X...(e)xact...(e)xtraordinary...X out the unnecessary
Y...yarn of a story...yawn (avoid)...yearnings...yes (or no)...yet (as in, doors haven’t opened yet)
Z...zenith...zest...zip

This is just a sample of one writer's alphabet soup--a savory mix to keep me going. Any ingredient you'd like to add? What does your writer's alphabet look like?
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12 comments:

  1. Love it! I guess a word I would add would be "malleable." Our works and our attitudes need to be malleable, flexible.

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    1. Thanks, Cathy--malleable and flexible, so true. Especially when our characters take us in a surprising direction other than what we had planned! Ah, another word--'listen' (to our characters). Hmmmm...

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  2. Kenda, You are so creative! What a unique check list of what we cover when writing our novels.

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    1. Thanks...And, btw, congratulations on your release of "Beyond Suspicion"--what exciting times for you :-)

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  3. Love this! Nothing to add here~ everything you've mentioned resonated!

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  4. This is great! I think you about covered it all. It does indeed seem like a savory and necessary mix. :)

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  5. Wow! What a great list. I can't add a thing. Thanks for sharing this.

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  6. This is a great list, Kenda. Thanks for sharing. I will tweet this post :) and also read it to my students.

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  7. Thanks to all--glad you enjoyed. And thanks, Rachna, for the tweet. Appreciate it! Hope your students enjoyed it, too :-)

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  8. This is a fabulous list - what a great idea!

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  9. Wow - what a great list! You must have spent a lot of time on this!

    What to add? Maybe "magic" and "magical realism" - my genre of choice.

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  10. Thanks, Kimberly!

    And Peggy, I'll have to update the list and add your contributions--thanks :-) And the evolution of this post is interesting. I didn't purposely plan to do an alphabetic list but looking over my journals with an eye to my WIP, a list of things I wanted to give attention to began to develop. And the thought popped up, could I match to every letter of the alphabet?? And here we are. It really didn't take that long once the idea hatched--but I DO need to get back to work...

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