NaNoWriMo Tip #24: It’s not what you mean, but how you phrase it.


I am from the South, where politeness is an art form. There, merely saying “Good morning” is a curt form of communication. Instead, conversations are dressed up with additional gracious phrases, such as “Looks like it'll be another hot one…” or “That dress certainly becomes you.”

These comments may be spoken prose, but the pictures they draw in the mind's eye of the receiver fall as lightly on the ear as any poem.

That's because it's not what you mean, but how you say it.

This is especially true when crafting a novel, as so many of you are doing during National Novel writing Month.

Case in point:  When my son, Austin, was twelve, he was golfing with my brother, his Uncle Marty, at Marty's country club in Atlanta. Even at that age, Austin had a phenomenal swing. Or, as Will Smith's mysterious golf caddie calls it so poetically in the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance, an “authentic swing.”

On the third hole, when Austin hit his ball all the way down the fairway, over 175 feet.

His ball landed a few feet from the cup.

One of men in the foursome whistled low and muttered, “Way to hit that ‘tater, boy!”

Granted, the man could have merely said, “Quite a swing!” But where is the poetry in that?

There should be poetry in your writing, too.

It comes with the daily words you strive for during NaNoWriMo, a process which allows you to flex your creative muscles, to find your writing rythmn.

Or, in Bagger Vance parlance, your “authentic swing.”

Because of NaNoWriMo, some of you have already found it. Others are struggling to make their word count, to make their plot work, or to create characters who seem authentic.

If I were to attach a golfing metaphor, I'd repeat the one Bagger uses with Matt Damon, who plays the golfer under his tutelage:

“You've lost your swing. You've just got to go find it. It's somewhere in the harmony of all that is and all that was, and all that will be.”

Practice makes perfect. So does the belief that you have it in you to complete your novel, and to sell it.

If, at any point during NaNoWriMo, you feel as if you've lost your swing, remember: it's there.

You just have to find it.

The photo above is of Will Smith and Matt Damon, in The Legend of Bagger Vance




Question of the day: What was the hardest writing day you've had thus far during NaNoWriMo?  

Happy National Novel Writing Month,

— Josie

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