Apply E.M. Forster's Five Elements to make your writing more balanced.

In Aspects of the Novel, E.M. Forster identifies five key elements of a novel: story, plot, people, pattern, and rhythm. The balance of these elements helps determine the overall “feel” of both non-fiction and fiction writing. Develop the habit of tracking how you are applying each of the five elements to ensure that your work is balanced and communicates the right message. At regular intervals in your writing process (e.g., every 5,000 words, twice a week, etc.), revisit these five elements and write down how you are applying them in your work.

Download the Five Elements worksheet (PDF)


How writers write

(A resource by Joseph Grammer, 6994 words to date.)

Habits! We all want them (even if we think we’re free spirits). Each author has her or his own process for putting pen to paper, so I thought it would be helpful to check out a few habits of some well-known writers.

Vladimir Nabokov

The legend himself, creator of such mind-tickling books as Lolita and Ada. The Russian émigré wrote standing up and jotted his sentences down on 3x5 index cards, which let him mix up the narrative as needed. Interesting that his poet in Pale Fire did the same thing… Anyway, check out his interview in The Paris Review.

Plus, there’s the health benefits of standing.

Jennifer Egan

The Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist tends to write her fiction in an Ikea chair and edit behind a desk. First drafts are on legal pads, with the notable exception of a chapter in A Visit From the Goon Squad that is told entirely in PowerPoint slides. She says, “A first draft takes about 10% of the total writing time, but in terms of importance it’s probably 50%.” Each of her 3-4 drafts reflects “20 rewrites of each individual part.” She shoots for 5-7 pages a day of original material. Read the rest.

Truman Capote

The eccentric master behind In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany’s took a horizontal approach to writing—he wrote lying down on a couch or bed. Cigarettes, coffee, and sherry were kept close at hand for creative stimulation of the chemical kind. Mr. Capote wrote two drafts in pencil longhand and a third draft on the typewriter, supine-style. Want to know what happens if you lie down all day and write?

David Foster Wallace

The loquacious and searing DFW called himself a “Five Draft Man”. Two handwritten drafts, two typed, and the final product. Hard to imagine the total word count he racked up while composing Infinite Jest

Haruki Murakami

Japan’s bestselling author is a model of self-discipline. Here’s an excerpt from his Paris Review interview:
When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at nine p.m. I keep to this routine every day without variation.
What a badass. I’m tempted to say something to the effect of ‘Holy Hard-Boiled Wonderland!’, but that would be awful. (See: paralipsis) (Also see his interview).

Interested in more authors’ writerly habits?

Check out Write To Done’s article.

Now write, writers! Idiosyncratically, conventionally, quickly, slowly—whatever. Just stick letters to pages.

Need some inspiration?

Here are all recent public snippets written in Twords.
OK, that's enough. I just have to accept the fact that I'm just not productive in the evening and let it go. I'm done.

I suppose I might as well get started. Normally I'm at my most productive during the morning, and it's evening now, but I did sign up, so I may as well get started now so I don't look like a loser when I'm first starting out.

Tword has helped me write and think about writing a lot more than I usually would. In this aspect, I feel like it has been very useful to me as a writing space. I have been able to use my writing here as a way to practice my writing/typing, be able to express thoughts and feelings that I may not be ready to share, and ease my stress and thinking about writing. I want to continue writing every day because I feel that getting my thoughts out onto a writing space, my mind becomes less crowded and I can think more clearly. I have reviewed this site on Tumblr and you can follow the link to find it. I hope people are finding Tword as useful as I have.

My wife Carol and I have left the Midwest to visit my brother Dan and his wife Connie in California.
They are both retired and have lived in Yuba City for years.
We save up during the year, to fly out in January and stay a few weeks.
Our doctor said my wife has a slight case of SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder,) which would be minimized if she could get more sun.
My brother and I have visited each other several times over the years; so since my wife had been diagnosed with SAD, we decided to visit during the winter months.

We always enjoy our time with them, and we love the weather; most of the time.
Last year, we were in California during the middle of a torrential downpour which was so bad that one day towards the end of our vacation; the authorities gave us an hour to evacuate. Oroville, the largest earthen dam in the U.S. was upstream from my brother's house, was at risk of failing.

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