Writing Tip # 17 — The Lamb Window

There is a certain time in the early spring when, from the back windows of my house, you can catch glimpses of new lambs prancing on the hillside. Soon the spring leaves will grow in on the trees between us and the dancing babes, but for just a week or two we have a clear view of their hopping, chasing, frolicking ways. Delightful.

There is also a window, in the crafting of a manuscript, where there’s enough material down to make it feel like a draft but it’s not filled out so much that it’s nearly done. In this window you have the perfect view and opportunity to dance and mess around a while.

What is this messing about I talk of? It’s a type of freedom that allows you to do any or all of the below without feeling like you’re destroying the finished product. (But, like I said, you have to have enough writing down to feel like the story already has some life to it.)

  1. Look at the chapters and see if anything about rearranging them would make your novel more interesting and dynamic. Maybe you don’t have to be chronological.
  2. List the characters. Is there one that is not very active? Can you combine that character with one of the others? Can the old college pal and the doctor be the same person? The ex-wife and the lawyer?
  3. Can you mess with the settings? Maybe some are boring. What would it take to make some weirder or more stunning? Could the love interest work at the circus instead of the phone company? (Okay, that may be a bit silly, but you get the idea.) Do they have to have that conversation in the hotel room or can they have it while walking to the hotel, getting caught in a downpour, huddling under the awning of a restaurant with people eating on the other side of the glass, staring at the characters through the window?
  4. Can you make things more suspenseful by throwing in an additional problem here or there? Be bold with your imagining – you can always change your mind. Think big. It’s dancing time!
  5. Look at your characters’ names and use your gut instinct. Some names feel perfect. Others feel uncomfortable. Better to rename them now while it still has some subtle impact on that character’s personality rather than at the end of draft five when all you might do is search and replace one name with another. A name is truly part of a character. Be open-minded and follow your pleasure.
  6. You have the hang of it now. More ideas will come to you.


So, my lambies, look for that window between hardly begun and almost done and take advantage of it. Prance about freely. It’s time to kick up your heels.


3 Responses to “Writing Tip # 17 — The Lamb Window”

  1. Mary Says:

    This is such a great post! I just threw out the first 3 chapters and rearranged 12 others in a book that never, never worked right. It was right after I decided to throw it in the ‘trash’… And that window was so much fun! Lovely images!

  2. Wendela Says:

    Love the lambs – and the suggestions!

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