Drafting a Novel and Particularity

Am I a writerWriting a novel is a more challenging process than I bargained for when I started. The desire to author a novel came when I was considering things to do in retirement. I had never heard of “particularity.”

First novel

I was sixty-six when I began the draft of Saving Delisanna. Hours and hours of research went into learning details about mythology. Online tools created a world map to fit my vision of the story. Character and location names selected. After mulling the storyline for some time, months, I began. Two years later, I typed “The End” to the story. I couldn’t have been more proud of the effort, though the result pained me to read.

I revised the story’s beginning and submitted it to a critique group. Three critiques came back. I read them one time and put away until my ego recovered. My ego is better, and the draft novel lives on behind closed doors.

Another novel after NANO


The November before retirement, I took the NANOWRIMO challenge. Meeting the challenge gave me Kiliane’s Rage or Kiliane’s Revenge, depending on which day of the week it is. (Titles subject to change as the work progresses.)

Editing is not a fun time when compared to building a world or writing about the inhabitants. The story migrates, characters are born or die, the world suffers, and so does the author suffer (me!)

Many articles, books, and blogs address how to edit. Do this, don’t do that, etc. I read a blog on Janice Hardy’s Fiction University website about tell versus show words. A reference to Sol Stein was in the text. Amazon provided me a copy of Stein On Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies.


Sol Stein and Particularity
Courtesy Amazon

There wasn’t much new to me in the first several chapters. I gained a new perspective when I reached the section on editing. Here I found suggestions that seemed to contradict other articles. After a careful rereading, I surmised it did not contradict but reinforced.

Telling is bad. Showing permits the reader to immerse him/herself into the story. Yet, one cannot avoid telling else the story becomes unwieldy. One need not watch a character rise from bed, detail abulations, dress, cook and eat breakfast, walk to the car, start and drive to the office, etc. Perhaps, some of these things become important, e.g., he fights with the wife over breakfast. Telling allows the author to get the character to the office in a few words, keeping the reader’s attention without distracting by mundane details.

Saving adverbs and adjectives

Mr. Stein introduced the term “particularity.” It is used to bring the scene to life. It can include adjectives and adverbs to make the scene. He gave an example of a person seeking a new apartment. He said the author could have said: “it was a huge apartment.” Instead, the author showed through adjectives and adverbs the fourteen-foot high ceilings, the stone steps, the echo of their voices. The point being to be judicious in paring descriptive words from your work.

Halfway through my rewrite and I am encouraged not to pair every adverb or adjective. Thanks, Sol!

It is the author who must decide how to make the words tell his story. That includes what words to cut and what to let remain. My bane until this WIP is ready for publishing.

I would love hearing your thoughts on “particularity.”



  1. Yes! Adverbs aren’t bad. We have them in our language for a reason.

    How is the editing going?

    I agree it is a lot less fun than writing the first draft. At least the first draft to first edit is. My first draft is messy, but my second has to be coherent and the story has to hang together. After that, I start worrying about word choice.

    It is fun after the third or fourth draft to see how far you have come, to see the gem hidden in the first draft.

    • Dwane

      Hello Elizabeth,

      I am half way through this trip editing. I am satisfied there is a story here. I am turning it into something people will want to read. I sent a copy to my kindle. I found several things to change in the early chapters and noted for next trip through revising. If I don’t like the read, why expect others will.

      I see you have become a prolific published author. *Red with Jealousy* I am proud to say I met you before you were published! LOL

      Thank you for for your support. I really appreciate it.

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