Tag Archives forCreative Writing

NaNoWriMo Tip #13 – First Rule of Writing Club is You Don’t Tell People About Writing Club

When you’re in the thick of your novel, it feels only natural to have the itch to tell people about it. It’ll be even more tempting to send a part of the draft to friends, family, or anyone else who says they want to read it.

Don’t do it.

With your first draft, you need to adhere to the door closed policy. That means you don’t tell people about your characters, your story, your ideas, or how things are going. The only exception to this rule could be telling other writers who also are working on a NaNoWriMo project but even then, keep things brief and simple. Don’t go on and on about the project.

Your project isn’t finished yet. The first draft is solely an exploratory venture that’ll need to be heavily changed, edited, and molded into something else. If you start telling people about it, you open the floodgates to potential criticism, judgment, or weird looks.

Even weird looks can kill motivation. All it takes is a weird noise from your Aunt Helen or an “Uh-huh” from Uncle Walter to make you feel seriously foolish and want to crawl into a hole.

Letting people read your manuscript is even worse than telling people about it. Grammar mistakes will abound. Details will be wrong. Descriptions will be awful. Pacing will likely suffer. The whole gambit is not going to be any good. Why in the world would you run into a battlefield unarmed with only a speedo to protect you?

So, when you have that insatiable craving to tell someone about your novel, repeat after me:

The first rule of writing club is you don’t tell people about writing club. 

How to show in your writing

The old chestnut of every creative writing teacher is “Show, don’t tell”, but they rarely give you much else. If you always show, won’t all your stories be insanely long? Yes, they will. Showing every last detail of information is just bad writing and bad advice. Showing can become overwhelming, overbearing, and will bog down the narrative of your story. Once upon a time, I was in love with this style of writing typically found in Romanticism like Novalis. It doesn’t work to modern sensibilities, unfortunately. If we’re really going to get the most out of this maxim, then we need to get to the heart of it.

How to Write Subtext: Don’t Be Captain Obvious

At one point in time you’ve read a novel or watched a movie and finished it saying, “Man, that was too preachy.” Some say on the nosecheesy, spoon-fed, or in your face, but what they really mean is the writer didn’t use subtext to get across a message but rather used exposition in the dialogue or narration.

We’ll call this writer Captain Obvious. You don’t want to be Captain Obvious. 

Here are a few reasons why: