An Easy Way to Improve Your Novel Right Now

And to think I was worried about how I would approach my writing today.

Ellen Brock


If you read my post on using find and replace to edit your novel, you know that I’m all about easy ways to pretty up your prose!

There are certain writing tips and tricks that get shoved around a lot: showings vs. telling, info dumps, and purple prose, for example. But there’s another big one that’s often ignored: filtering.

Filtering is when you “filter” the novel through the character’s senses, creating an extra layer of distance between the reader and the story.

There are a lot of filtering words, but here are the big ones.

Filtering Words

  • Saw
  • Heard
  • Felt
  • Tasted
  • Knew
  • Thought
  • Realized

If you’ve never heard of filtering, you might be thinking, I use these words all the time!  Unfortunately, filtering is something widely known among industry professionals (it can be a red flag that work is amateur), but it’s much less known to aspiring authors.

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NaNoWriMo Word Sprints -It Might Work For YOU!

Yesterday I set a goal to get more writing done on my NaNoWriMo project. I’m still not at my ideal word count, but I did have some great writing moments.

On the NaNoWriMo site, I saw that on Twitter, there was the official NaNoWriMo handle,  a coach for the week, and NaNoWordSprints. I was curious about the word sprints. I decided to try it out. I figured if it wasn’t working for me I could always stop and go write on my own. In other words I had low expectations.

Well let me tell you, writing with word sprints was a good choice. It reminded me of some of the exercises I had done in writing  class at Story Studio. For some reason, these little exercises do something to my writing. It is like taking a class at the gym. You end up feeling sore the next day because you were using other muscles that you don’t typically work. I love that feeling – both in exercise and writing. In my writing, it opens me up to other ways of approaching the story..

Different people host for various times over at NaNoWordSprints. I encourage you to check it out if you have time. It sounds as though you can drop in anytime (free) and just write. Sometimes there are prompts and other times not. It is timed writing and they urge you to set a word count goal.

The prompt that made me take off like a horse spooked wagon was a song prompt: “I Will Wait for You”, by Mumford and Sons. At first I thought, This will never work. My story is set in the past. I had to think about it for a few minutes. At first I  worried about how this was affecting my word count. Then I had an a-ha moment and almost ripped holes in my paper I was writing so fast. The more I wrote, the more the idea shaped itself in my head. I think I might have the idea for my opening and first chapter.

If you are looking for a writing challenge, try some word sprints. I hope they will be as beneficial for you as they were for me.