Lessons from Last Year: Narrative Mode and Voice

The great thing about NaNoWriMo is that you very quickly learn your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. I learned very quickly last time around that I am terrible at writing dialogue. The reason for this is that all of my formative writing experience was writing academic essays in university. I probably didn’t write a word of fiction at all between 2004 and 2009. This means I can formulate an argument well, but I can’t for the life of me write three characters having a conversation without it turning into:

“____” he said
“____” she said
“____” I said


This was a big problem for me last year, especially since the style I fell into was a third person narrative. It was always slowing me down.

So, what should I take away from this lesson? I either have to really practice at dialogue techniques and read some writing guides, or I should just avoid falling into a style that’s heavy on dialogue. Well this is NaNo and practice takes time, so obviously I’ll go with the latter. By no means will I be trying to write 50,000 words without dialogue, but I’m going to be careful about perspective from the outset this time. I think the wisest thing to do is first person narrative with a lot of monologue, maybe even a stream of consciousness voice.

Any advice readers might have would be welcome!

1 thought on “Lessons from Last Year: Narrative Mode and Voice”

  1. 1) For Nano, don’t worry about it. No one writes perfect anything in 30 days.
    2) Read it out loud. I sort of read out loud in my head as I’m writing, so I have some idea of how it sounds. It’s not perfect, but it helps.
    3) Be careful of getting too cutesy in avoiding “he said. He said. She said.” If you start throwing adverbs and other crazy stuff in there, it will just get worse.

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