Five Writing Things I’ve Thought about This Week

1. Letting the first draft be the wind-up draft, knowing that the action/big stuff is stating way late in the story. Imagining myself borrowing my husband’s HUGE new shopvac and just SUCKING that slow, padding away in the next revision.

2. Reactions. When something happens in a story, the characters–ESPECIALLY the point of view character–has to react. Sometimes the reaction needs to be as big as the event, sometimes it needs to be hidden and buried from all the other characters, but it has to be there. Otherwise, you’ve got readers turning pages back and forth to see if they missed something…a big HUH??!! thought-bubble over their heads.

3. Setting, setting, setting. How to get SO inside the world that you write it fluidly onto the page, barely conscious of the specific details you ARE using, rather than sitting back, picturing things, and sticking images down like mismatched Lego colors.

4. Anger. Having it be part of the character, be a piece of their essence, be natural & righteous & strong. Instead of writing words like “gasped” and “tensed” and “reddened.” But being semi-okay with those words for, you know…the first draft.

5. The reader. Me, the writer. And what might possibly be the thread that connects us, through the story.

What writing thoughts have been on your mind this week? I’m thinking we have to celebrate them all, as part of why we do this, even when they are frustrating and challenging and potentially mind-blowing in NOT so good a way!

Happy weekend, everybody.


  1. Reactions is always a big one for me. I usually have to layer them in in subsequent drafts.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about structure as I’ve been reading so many of the latest verse novels.


    • beckylevine says:

      I tend to, I think, overdo reactions in the first draft (and probably the second and the third…). I know it’s one of the biggies for me when I critique, so maybe I’m a bit oversensitive in wanting to get it all in!

      I think Hugging the Rock is a beautiful example of structure in a verse novel. Just sayin’.


  2. Love your comment of mismatched Lego pieces! Fluidity is so important, especially when describing something like setting. You want to give them just enough to picture it, but hold back enough for them to finish the image in their mind.

    I’ve been working on fixing parts of my writing that have obvious information dump. Definitely need to weave in the information better so it flows….ah, and back to fluidity.


    • beckylevine says:

      That lego image just came to me–they’re wonderful building toys, but they never got me, because everything you make is boxy and choppy. Or probably just cause I could never really build anything with them at all–that would be the fault of me, not the legos!

      Fluidity, it is. Today’s goal!


  3. Lua says:

    This was a great list Becky- excellent points all writers needs to be careful about!
    Setting has been on my mind a lot lately, sometimes I’m having troubles creating the ‘world’ and also I feel like I’m being too easy on my characters; they need to struggle more, overcome more, mature more… 🙂


    • Lua,

      That happens to me, too. Certain characters become very dear and as the story progresses, I think, no, I can’t do that to him/her! But I have to, because that’s the story. I read somewhere once that sometimes you just have to say, what is the worst thing that could happen right now to this character, and then you have to do it. Oh…our poor characters!


    • beckylevine says:

      Lua, I think setting is so important and so easy (unfortunately) to overdo. I let myself dump a lot in & be prepared to trim later. 🙂

      Have you read Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel. He’s got lots on making your hero really WORK for things.


  4. Hey Becky-
    I’m new to your blog but got your email about the contest and so yes, now I’m hooked. I’m writing the first draft of my first novel and it is soooo hard to gush it out know that it may all be cut some day. But, as I have told Joyce many times, I know I have to write it in order to fix it later!
    Please enter me in your contest and happy unbirthday (that’s what we called 6 month celebrations in college- many moons ago. Apparently it began with ALice in Wonderland though. Just looked it up!


    • beckylevine says:

      Carol, thanks for coming over! I’m going to copy this to the contest post, just so I don’t lost you. 🙂 Did Joyce get you started writing–she’s probably very good at that!


  5. Love this site. I have started a YA novel this summer. Intense, exhilarating, exhausting,and fianlly I feel alive again. I very much appreciate your tips. Thank you!


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