Before we begin, practice healthy creative habits: Clear your space of clutter, set aside some time to focus and spend 2-3 minutes doing your Daily Free Writing before you begin. See Lesson 2 for more about DFW.

Expanding Your Target Words

Yesterday we identified three words that we hope our readers will use to describe our book. Some of the words I heard on the forums were: Phantasmagorical, Transcendent, Epic, Interesting, Surprising, Smart and Conversational, Anecdotal, Shooting Straight from the Hip. So how do we weave these concepts into our book?

There’s an old chestnut: Show Don’t Tell. That’s what we’re going to do in our work. It’s up to us as writers to dream up ways to demonstrate what we’re trying to express through ACTION. Here’s a fictional example.

Telling: Sally is an inspiring human rights lawyer who has been working to free Cambodian sex workers since 1998.

Showing: Sally pushed back the hair on her brow and beat on the door again. “Let me in, I’m with the police, let her go,” she shouted. She looked nervously back at the group. “Let’s hope they don’t have guns,” she said looking over at the fresh faced officers to her left. There was a noise from behind the door, the sound of scraping as a deadbolt was freed from it’s rusted lock. The door swung open and Sally flinched. There was the girl, head down, terrified. Sally wrapped her arms around her and led her towards the street. The girl was free.

Today’s Assignment

We’re going to do an hour of head down writing. If you can do more, great, but I want you to find a quiet place, clear all distractions, shut off your internet, set a timer on your phone and just write for one hour. The goal is to take those key words and to write out stories, scenes, chapters or even little vignettes that SHOW the quality you’re hoping to impart. If you’re writing a novel, then it’s purely story based. If you’re writing non-fiction (and especially how-to materials) it could be stories or case studies – or it could be a particularly useful and valuable piece of advice or an explanation of how something works.

You don’t have the write the whole thing… just write enough to flesh out some of those points for your outline. If you feel a natural stopping point, stop. Examine your outline, look for opportunities to add these kinds of details in. It may require breaking out cards into individual chapters (in Scrivener), with a brief summary on the front and your expanded writing inside (we will talk more about this in future lessons but eventually you will have one card for each chapter, so if you want to get a jump on that, go for it).

I highly suggest storing this free writing in Evernote for future reference as you work on your book. Label it “Brainstorming”.

Ready? Let’s do it!

1Daily free writing
2An hour of writing around finding ways to SHOW your three words in your book.