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Hello,

This week I’m taking a brief look at brevity which is a key tool in any writer’s toolbox. I once had a staff job for the Good Book Guide where I reviewed books in a short paragraph. It was vital training in how difficult it is to use one words when you could use ten. Mark Twain was right when he claimed “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead”.

Anybody who writes flash fiction or haiku will be familiar with the difficulty of brevity. Shakespeare understood. He has Polonius, a notoriously wordy character in Hamlet, declare that “Brevity is the soul of wit”.

Brevity entered English in the late 1400s and means shortness in speech or writing. It arrived there from Latin where brevis means short or brief. Before England brevis travelled from Rome to France as brievete meaning brevity – although it looks more like a vet for brie cheese in my opinion. Unlike many words with hundreds of years of use, brevity moved between languages with little change and has retained its meaning to modern times.

Brevity is something I shall be avoiding next month as I dive into my annual NaNoWriMo adventure. The challenge is to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days so excess words are encouraged. I’ll be mentoring the writers in my region (Ireland North East) as usual, running writing events, and writing my own novel too. I’ll let you know how it’s going. Are any of you taking the NaNo challenge this year?

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace (@Wordfoolery)

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Hello,

It’s the start of the final week here in nanoland and I just wrote the last chapter, sort of.

As I mentioned last week, I’m writing a dual story – one strand being the contemporary tale of Amy restoring a castle, joining the Castle Cove lifeboat crew, and unearthing family history skeletons – and the second strand being her ancestor’s tale set at the time of the Spanish Armada as the family fight for their surival in the turmoil of Tudor politics in Ireland. I wrote the last words of the modern story this morning, but of course that only marks the halfway point in the novel as a whole.

This evening I’ll go back to the start and finally write chapter one, opening the historic tale with Jose Molina Ruiz running away to join the Armada. I’m hoping that writing the story in this way will make the past-present links easier to craft into the storyline and the right narrative tone easier to maintain with the language. We shall see.

The good news this week is that I’m on the cusp of the NaNoWriMo winner’s wordcount of 50,000 words in one month. I should pass that tonight. I’ll keep going until the end of the month as I want to draft as much of the novel as possible. Novels are rarely only 50,000 words long, you see. They can be anything from 70,000-200,0000 words in length, depending on a multitude of factors, especially genre. For the moment I’m ignoring length and getting the story down on the page. My revision phase will sort out the wordcount, but without a first draft there’s nothing to revise, and that’s why Nano is so brilliant.

The bad news this week is that with seven days to go in the challenge, Real Life is beginning to intrude. My DH has to take another unscheduled trip to London (leaving me writing and sole-parenting, not ideal), I’ve had to reschedule the final write-in I was hosting for my region on Thursday, my daughter has gone Christmas Crazy earlier than expected so I’m under pressure to decorate the house and supervise card-making sooner than planned, and my other volunteer gig (as a Beaver Scout section leader for thirty 6-8 year old boys and girls) is running a major outdoor adventure event on the last day of Nano which will require me to sacrifice writing sessions in the days leading up to it. Before you ask, no I didn’t select that date, trust me. Yes, I am delegating. But the buck stops with me, so I know it will eat up writing time.

Real Life happens. It’s part of Nano and it has the ability to derail the best laid writing plans. I may not make it to 60,000 words this year but I’ll live. I remember fondly the year that I wrote 74,000 words and I dream of one year writing an entire first draft in the month. But this year if I can just get my historic characters started on their voyage, I’ll be happy enough. I’ve enjoyed spending a month in Castle Cove, renewing my friendship with characters from previous novels in the same setting, and plotting oodles of conflict for my heroine. It will soon be time to return to reality and I will do so reluctantly.

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace (on 48,152 words and readying her corset for the year 1588A.D.)

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