The Four D’s

Have you been writing and writing and writing only to end up with a novella rather than a full-length novel?

Have you found yourself stuck in the middle of your book wondering if you should backtrack or forge ahead?

You can call it lengthening, padding, embellishing… whatever you’d like, but here are four suggestions for making your story the most it can be.

The Four D’s:

First of all, start back at the beginning and add description/details to enhance the plot or characters or setting.

Secondly, develop the story. Expand it. Add more scenes. Perhaps add more characters or develop each scene so characters come alive.

Thirdly, add more dialog. Remember, don’t tell the story. Submerge us in it. Let us be part of the story experience.

Finally, dig deep. That’s right. Deepen the story. You may have only scratched the surface. Re-read one of your favorite novels. You may find that the reason you like it so much is because it has real depth.

As our two year old grandson says at the end of a meal, “All Done.”


When I Forget the Words

Have you seen instances on television of celebrities, football players, and even olympians who don’t know the correct words to the Star Spangled Banner? Or, perhaps witnessed an interview of a person who got tongue-tied, searching frantically for just that right word?

As writers, we have it a little easier than that. Using our computers, we can write and rewrite until we get the words to flow “just right”. We can use a thesaurus and a dictionary to help us choose words and check on meanings.

I recently bought a book called The Describer’s Dictionary by David Grambs. I must confess I have just begun to use it, but to give you an example of how it works, say you want to describe the color black. The book gives these words: ebony, ebon, sable, jet, onyx, ink black, coal black, anthracite.  The book is divided into words for various Shapes, Patterns and Edges, Surfaces and Textures, Light and Colors, etc.

A book I’ve used a LOT, is The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. I truly believe no fiction writer should be without this book. It includes all emotions in an easy-to-use alphabetical format that is further broken down into Physical Signals, Internal Sensations, Mental Responses, Cues of Acute or Long Term experiences of an emotion, emotions that specific examples May Escalate To, and Cues of Suppressed emotions. I especially like the Writer’s Tip which is provided at the bottom of each listed emotion.

So, there are resources out there. I am slowly finding them. If you know of any others that writers might find useful, please let me know. One I’d find extremely useful would be substitutions for adverbs. If there isn’t one out there, already, maybe this would be a project you’d be interested in taking on!