Wednesday, November 18, 2015

EXPLORING DIFFERENT WRITING STYLES - A Guest Post By Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes learned to write her alphabet with a fountain pen. In Kindergarten. Cool, huh? Maybe that's what started her love for writing. She started journaling at age nine and thus began her habit of communicating via pen and paper more than spoken words. She never decided to become a writer. Her brain simply classified it as a necessity to life.

Nadine is a stay-at-home author and writes stories about authentic faith, bold living, and worlds soaked in imagination. She lives in Idaho with her husband and works as a freelance editor. When she's not writing, editing, or taste-testing a new chai, she is out pursuing adventures. A Time to Die was her first novel, A Time to Speak, her second. Visit Nadine at www.nadinebrandes.com.



It’s easy to get in a writing rut.

I’m not talking about voice or plot or writer’s block, or getting stuck in flat characters. I’m talking about how you write your manuscript. I’m guessing that 99% of us write it on our computers. We type our stories. Why? Because it’s faster, because it’s harder to misplace a computer than it is to lose a notebook, and because … word counts, duh! That beautiful little word count button is our best friend (or sometimes worst enemy … like during NaNo.) ;-)

But have you ever thought about the different formats in which we could write a book? And how that might change how we write it? I’ve given this a lot of thought and, coming January 1st, I’ll be writing my next book … by hand.

I know. I’m crazy. But let me explain.

Writing by hand causes me to:
·         Write slower and really think through a scene. Every sentence is more intentional.
·         Sit in a different posture. Instead of looking straight at the story on my computer screen, I’m looking down at the paper. Even that change in posture can affect the way you think. Just think about where you direct your gaze during the every-day. When I’m thinking hard, I look up. When I’m brainstorming, I’ll look sideways. Etc. The very posture of your body can stimulate a different way of thinking.
·         Experience writing in a new way. We all find the stories of Josephine March poring over her stacks of paper in Little Women or Beatrix Potter from the movie Miss Potter or Anne writing her first book for Gilbert in Anne of Avonlea (movie) ROMANTIC. (Don’t deny it. And, if you don’t know any of these stories, go watch ALL THOSE MOVIES RIGHT NOW. This blog post will wait for you. ;) ) Why do we find it so romantic or nostalgic or appealing? Write a book by hand and see for yourself.

Complaint: But…but…hand cramps!
Answer: Take breaks! Or use a fountain pen. ;-)

Complaint: But…but…word counts!
Answer: Count up the number of words on about 3 pages, then add and divide by 3 to get an average. Voila, you can now get a good estimate of your word count. Besides, you’ll be typing up the completed draft on the computer at some point anyway.

What prompted me to go insane and commit to writing a book by hand? I started studying “the greats.” You know – the old people who wrote old books and got fantasy and sci fi onto the shelves (I’m talking C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien.) I loved exploring their writing habits and I started to wonder what we might have lost when computers came into the picture.

Then this thought struck me: I hate reading books on my computer screen. It feels impersonal. I use my Kindle only when I have to. So, if I don’t like reading books in an electronic format, why would I want to write one in an electronic format? It’s a huge difference. The same difference between holding a paperback versus holding a Nook in your hands.

We all have a preference. Why is that? I mean, the story’s the same, but the way we perceive the story is different. How can we capture and explore that beauty in our writing? It’s an adventure – one that’s sitting there and waiting for anyone who wants to write.

Let’s step forward and journey together. J

I’ve started a list of all the different ways I want to write a book. And I will be committing to this:

1. By hand – I’ll be doing this with a fountain pen since that’s what I learned to write with.

2. On a typewriter (my husband bought me one from 1936 – isn’t he the best?! – but you can probably borrow one or maybe even rent one from somewhere, or even find a cheapy in an old antique or thrift store.)

3. Outside (yes, even in winter.) – I want to write the entire story in the outdoors, surrounded by living sounds, scents, seasons…etc.

4. While traveling. Seriously – on a train, in a car, on a plane, on a boat. The whole book must be written in movement.


The world is your toolbox, writer. Just think of all the tools you haven’t tested yet—posture, location, writing tool (pen vs. pencil vs typewriter vs. wax tablet vs. quill.) Don’t you want to explore this world of writing?

I know I do.

So here’s my challenge to you: Try a different style of writing for a day. Or even for an hour. If you’re brave enough, commit to a different one each week and see which one fits you the best.

Then tell me about it. We’re adventurers at heart. Let’s be adventurers in action, too. Our stories (and readers) will thank us for it.

What do you think of this idea of exploring different writing styles? Insane? Awesome? Weird?



Jill here! What an intriguing idea, Nadine. I'm curious to hear how your writing goes. I've always brainstormed in notebooks, but I've never written a book that way.

To thank Nadine for coming on the blog, we're giving away a paperback copy of either A Time to Die (Book one) OR A Time to Speak (Book two), whichever the winner chooses. I loved both of these books and am anxiously waiting for book three! Here's a little more about book one, and you can enter on the Rafflecopter form below.


How would you live if you knew the day you'd die? 

Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system. 

But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall -- her people's death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her clock is running out.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

51 comments:

  1. AGH! This is perfect timing, thank you so much!

    I've been thinking of trying out hand-writing a novella for my next writing project just to change things up :) With this input, I think I'm actually going to try it out! Handwriting stories was actually how I wrote my stories when I was younger... I'm excited to get back to it.

    Oh, and while you were giving examples of characters who wrote by hand... I was trying to guess how you'd describe it, and I guessed 'Romantic'. I was right, haha! I think of it as crazily romantic, too.

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    1. You should try it! And a novella would be a great start, since it's shorter than a full-length novel. I'm glad we share the same perception of romanticism. True writers at heart, we are. ;)

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  2. I aspire to write a book by hand someday, but it kind of scares me. Maybe my next book. :) Awesome post, Nadine!

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  3. Thanks for the post! I so badly want to write a story by hand outside. I hope to some time soon. :)

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  4. This is definitely an interesting challenge! I've never written a novel by hand because of lack of patience, but a co-worker of mine wrote her entire book by hand. I must say I was quite in awe of her! This is definitely something I want to try now!

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  5. I agree with you! Writing by hand is such a diferent experience and I rather enjoy it. I've only ever written short stories by hand however i would like to try a full length or at least longer novel sometimes. Hope I win!

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  6. I've written a few pages by hand but the big pain is typing it out on the computer afterwards. I love doing it because I feel like since my brain works faster than I can get it out, the words flow easier and the whole thing feels more smooth. When I'm stuck every once in a while I write on paper but I never thought of doing an entire book on paper! Thanks for these ideas! (and SUPER jealous of that typewriter:)

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    1. I've gotten rather addicted to my typewriter. :P I find that, even though the writing is slower, I stay focused longer so the quality ends up being much better. :)

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  7. I'm working on my first book by hand, because of limited screen time. But I love the idea of writing ind different places! And what about using dictation speech? I tried it last year for NaNo with my mom typing, but I don't like other people knowing my ideas before I know them myself.

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    1. I've thought of dictation speech, but I just don't think well enough to /speak/ a whole story. However, I'm willing to give it a try someday! I can see how it'd be tough with someone else typing it up for you. :) Way to be brave and give it a shot! :D

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    2. I am also planning a short Christmas story which I will only work on while either listening to Christmas music on the radio or sitting by the Christmas tree.

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  8. I like this idea. I have attempted to do by hand, but I get confused by all my sidenotes and insertions, because you can't just click the enter button and add something in. I may try this, though.

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  9. I wrote the first draft of my WIP by hand :) One of the bonuses of writing a manuscript by hand is that it's way more impressive to your friends ;)

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  10. I think it's an interesting idea, but not one I plan to try. Back when I was in high school, I didn't have a computer and I wrote my first novel by hand. It took me four years to finish because I can only write so fast, when I can type way faster. I also found that actually transferring the story to my computer was so tedious and boring that I gave up and just rewrote the story.

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  11. This is an awesome idea. IDK if I'll be able to do it anytime in the near future, but it's still awesome.
    I write primarily by hand primarily for the first reason Mrs. Brandes mentioned- it's easier to slow down and think about what I'm doing. Is counting up my words tedious? Stars, yes, especially during NaNo. But it's worth it. And it's even better if I'm writing outside- I've never written a whole novel outside (because heat. and cold. and internet.) but I will go outside as much as possible when the weather's nice.
    I do write on the computer sometimes- but mainly if I'm in a rush, or if I'm writing a school paper. In the latter case, it also works because I do want to distance myself a little more from my writing and have a more formal style.
    One thing I've never done is writing on a typewriter. I'd like to try sometime, but I've never gotten around to asking my dad if I can borrow his.

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    1. I love all your reasons and thoughts on different writing styles! I'm kind of excited to try writing even when it's cold out. Though my fingers might disobey me. :P

      And definitely try the typewriter sometime! :D

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  12. I think the idea of exploring different writing styles is awesome! I wrote two novellas by hand (and plenty of 'bits' of other stories), and had a lot of fun doing that. Yes, I do type a lot of my things on my computer, but I like writing by hand an awful lot too :). I've never written on a typewriter before, though I really need to try it sometime!

    ~Savannah Perran

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  13. Wow! That's incredible that you don't use a computer to write anymore. I think it's such a beautiful idea to write a book in the variety of ways that you mentioned (typewriter, traveling, etc.). I wonder how my writing would differ if I tried those styles of writing as well.

    Really interesting to consider! Thanks for sharing this. =)

    Tessa
    www.tessaemilyhall.com

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    1. My pleasure, Tessa! I'm glad it's spurred on some thoughts. :)

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  14. I think exploring different styles is great! I've been writing my book on my computer simply because it's faster and a little more convenient to fix that whole scene that you just completely botched. But I do love handwriting things, mostly because I feel like it gives me a little more freedom. I can go outside with it, I can take it with me wherever I go, it's easier to travel with. I usually write short stories and fanfictions on notebooks, but I think I would enjoy handwriting a novel at some point. :) And dang, going outside to write is definitely one of the best things ever!!! :D

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  15. Great Post!

    While this year i converted to a laptop, last year i wrote my entire NaNo novel on paper, all 50000 words of it. its pretty cool as long as you can read your own handwritting,which was a slight problem for me. something that i did for word count was stop every page and count my words. whenever i got to a 100 (800, 12300, 24800, numbers like that) i finished counting the line and wrote the number on the side. not only does it help you keep track of your total word count, but it's interesting to see how much space 100 words takes up. spoiler alert: they don't take up much

    good luck with writing your novel!

    ~K.A.C.

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    1. That's a brilliant system, Katie!!! *takes notes* ;)

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  16. For the longest time I wrote by hand, but then there was a wildfire that came dangerously close to our house a few years back, and it totally freaked me out because I had nothing backed up online. Then I went into a crazy 'type every single word I have ever written by hand onto the computer' phase. It took a lot of time.

    Now I write everything on the computer, but I've been known to take my laptop random places. Sitting outside after dark on the front porch is the time when I seem to write the best. Less distractions. I have a certain amount of time to get the words done because I don't want to disturb my parents when I come back in...or freeze to death (54 degrees is about as cold as I can handle. Still get frozen fingers, though). I certainly miss it during the Winter when I'm stuck inside the busyness of the house.

    I still love blank, lined paper and those fountain pens. Much more magical than a computer...Plus it's not as bad to become distracted doodling in the margins as it is to get lost in Facebook or some other part of the internet.

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  17. This is so true. I've already decided I want to write a book completely by hand someday, and I even have the notebook for it. ;)

    Also, I happen to have a typewriter, though not a cool old one. It's from the 80s or 90s or something, so it's electric. And it is definitely a different style...you can't fuss about typos because there's no erase. Hehe.

    Also, I write outdoors all the time! Perks of living in Florida, I guess--it's never really too cold to be outside.

    I definitely agree that writing by hand can be a great thing. I usually switch to writing by hand when a) I have to go somewhere and don't want to stop writing, or b) the words are coming too slowly for typing, which basically just means I'm spending too much time staring at the screen and being tempted to get on Pinterest or something instead of writing, rather than keeping the flow of things.

    Posture was something I hadn't thought about, though. Or the reading on the computer screen thing. Huh.

    ...So yeah, really interesting post. Good luck on writing that whole novel by hand! (I confess I did go on a hand-writing kick after reading something that said Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote all her books in "penny lined notebooks" or something. Hehe.)

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    1. Ahh! That's awesome, Amanda! :D When you do it, you should let me know, I'd love to hear how it goes for you! :D

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  18. Thanks so much for coming on Go Teen Writers, Nadine! We loved having you here. :-)

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    1. It was my pleasure, Jill! Thank you for having me and letting me share a bit of my writing-geekiness. ;)

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  19. I used to write all my stories by hand, but now I use the computer..... maybe I should go back to a pen and paper.

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    1. It'd be fun to go back, even for a day, to see what you like best. :)

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  20. I LOVE this! Even if I don't try all of these it has my mind thinking from a different angle. Thank you!

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  21. I wrote all my WIP and started the second one in little 6 by 6 or so notebooks. Went through several pens that way. I love writing outside and I wish I did while traveling. I try really hard to write, but a van full of teens and beautiful scenery outside the windows distract me. Only one or two pages to show after two hours of "writing" what IS this!
    I had a SLIGHTLY better time editing. I guess I just can't handle being pulled by two different worlds. I end up halfway in-between them, get nothing done and make all my friends think I'm a crazy person. I might try headphones, but I don't think that will help keep me from looking out the window.

    I switched to writing on a computer for NaNo this year. I think I'll be switching back after November. I've done some good writing, but I think I just prefer pen and paper. It is annoying to have to type it all up again before I begin editing, but I enjoy writing on paper far more.

    Thanks for this post. It was very thought provoking. I never considered position.

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  22. Writing by hand is frustrating because: 1. hand cramps, 2. it goes so much slower than my brain, 3. it's harder to edit. But I still think you have a point. And now I am seriously thinking about writing stories by hand again.
    I also liked your other "change it up" suggestions. Really, really want to try some of these.

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  23. Writing by hand is probably better given the fact that I wouldn't be able to write as fast as I think... but I think I'd go crazy with a typewriter. Maybe I'll try writing a short story by hand and go from there...

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  24. For me, I feel like I spend too much time writing indoors, and I'd really like to try writing outdoors more, even if it's just in my backyard. Changing up your writing routine can definitely inspire new ideas!

    This summer I visited an observatory in L.A, and at night I just remember being able to see the entire city up on this hill. It was a moment I'll never forget, and it actually inspired a scene in the novel I'm currently working on. I don't actually travel often, but if I had the opportunity to do so more, I'd definitely always bring my laptop and writing materials along!

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    1. That's so neat! Yes, writing outside really awakens a lot of my senses that I guess are normally stifled. :P

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  25. I've only ever written my stories down on paper. Then I go back and type them out. If I absolutely have to, I might write a chapter or two in an email or note on my ipod, if for some reason I'm away from paper, but generally I carry a notebook with me everywhere. In the car, at work, outside, family gatherings, around the house with me. I can't think on a computer screen. I've tried. Last year I got a laptop thinking the mobility would be enough for me to be able to cut my writing time down by having already typed, but the blank white screen just kills my thought process.

    Awesome post!! I love your ideas for how you are going to write your books exclusively with those methods. Good luck!

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  26. I wrote books by hand until I was fifteen and my family bought me my first laptop. I type most of the time now since it's way faster and more convenient but I still enjoy writing by hand the best. I always have a notebook with me when I'm out and whenever I get a quiet moment, I'll write a section of my story.

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  27. This idea intrigues me. I sometimes switch rooms when I'm having trouble writing, or go outside, sometimes brainstorm on paper, but I don't usually write on paper.

    Ooooh. Typewriters. Athelas has an antique typewriter, and it's on the desk in our room. It's lovely. I went through a period where I could not seem to write ANYTHING, and writing on the typewriter, with promts, was what got me out of that rut. xD

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  28. I used to write by hand ALL the time. I did get a lot of hand cramps, but I loved it. I mainly stopped because of the pain of having to type a huge manuscript up on the computer (a task I never accomplished, unfortunately.) But I think writing by hand is beautiful, and I agree with your statements. If I do it again (I suppose I should try for a larger story), I think I will type it up as I go, every few pages or whatnot.

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  29. Is there some sort of an...I don't know...app or something, that can photocopy handwritten pages and switch them to text on a document? Maybe that's far-fetched. If there isn't one, there should be! ;)

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  30. It's so interesting to hear different authors' opinions on writing styles! Really makes me think. :)

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  31. I have written all of my stories' first drafts out by hand. And then later drafts I've typed onto my cellphone. *because I do not have access to a computer or laptop.* There're just a couple of my quick stories that I first typed into my cellphone, instead of writing out by hand.


    I must say using pen and paper is the best way!!


    And that's how I'd keep track of large chunks of writing word count...except I'd only count two pages worth and divide by 2.


    When I did the 100 for 100 I'd count every word out, though.


    Very lovely post!!!! Thank you for sharing!!!!



    keturahskorner.blogspot.com

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    1. Also, when you write your first draft by hand and type the second it forces you to do a better work, and more gets out into that second draft :)

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  32. I LOVE it!!!! I am writing my MS longhand as well because, well, I have lots of reasons.

    1 - Stuff I "delete" is not permanently lost to me. I can keep the piece of paper, just add it to a folder of "deleted scenes" - this is also great because sometimes you want to go back and look at those discarded scenes, or decide you do want them in your story after all or want to learn from you mistakes, laugh at your stupidity, the possibilities are endless!

    2 - I don't have unlimited access to a computer - I DO have unlimited access to paper:)

    3 - When a computer crashes, my story would be lost so I want to have a "backup" copy on paper anyway...

    Sooo... that was really long and complicated but I just had to get that all off my chest:)

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  33. I like this idea. ^ ^ I'm not sure if I'll ever write a book by hand for efficiency and terrible hand writing sake, but I'd definitely like to write in really cool locations sometime. Good luck with this endeavor!

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

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  34. I love this! I might actually try to write outside at some point! I want to be able to write by hand, but my handwriting is seriously so terrible and I always cramp :/ Sometimes I enjoy doing notes by hand, but overall typing is a lot more comfortable, and I can basically type as fast as I can think. So that helps, especially when drafting.

    Nothing beats the good old red pen for editing though!

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