Saturday, November 9, 2013

# Guest Blog # NaNoWriMo

Boost Your Word Count With a TV Writer's Trick

 Part of a special month-long event featuring writing tips and NaNoWriMo strategies from guest writers and fellow NaNo participants.

What Ifs
By E. Van Lowe

Here’s an idea that not only can help you increase your NaNoWriMo daily word count, it can also add some amazing twists to your stories. I call this exercise What Ifs.   The idea of a what if is to vary from the norm.  Look at your outline and ask yourself what would happen if the character did the opposite of what was on the page.

When I was a series television writer, we writers would often sit around the conference table and throw out what ifs.  What if Cliff, who was so good at helping his kids work through their problems, offered up a rash of bad advice. These what ifs would always spark conversation, and the conversation would lead us to some very interesting, and dare I say, funny writing.

Last night, when I was reading through my work for the day, I asked myself what if when Megan arrived at the castle, instead of finding the man she was expecting to meet, someone from her past emerged.  My outline clearly stated: Megan goes to the castle, meets the man, makes a deal and leaves to tell her friends of the sacrifice she’s about to make. But I liked the twist of the what if and decided to go with it.  When I finally finished for the night, I had six hundred more words, and a twist no one will see coming.  Why am I so sure no one will see it coming?  Because I couldn’t see it coming.

It takes guts to play the what if game with your work.  Some what ifs take you so far away from the outline it’s hard to get back.  It can feel quite uncomfortable.  You’re in unfamiliar territory without a road map.   But if you have the guts to play, not only can you add pages, you can add unforeseen enjoyment for your readers.

The first time I used a what if outside of TV writing, I was working on my very first YA paranormal novel, Never Slow Dance With A Zombie.  I was near the end of my work day.  I had Margot and her nemesis, mean girl, Amanda Culpepper, in the gymnasium, hanging side-by-side from the ropes with a swarm of hungry zombies waiting below.  The next thing in the outline was for the girls to swing over to the other side and escape together before the slow moving zombies could make it across the gym.  I was about to stop writing when I asked myself, what would happen if after Margot gave her big speech, instead of escaping with Amanda, she willingly let go of the ropes, and fell into the arms of the zombies.  Here’s what I wrote:

 I took a deep, cleansing breath and let it out slowly. It felt soo good. “By the way, I’m not a nobody. I’m somebody. The name’s Johnson, Margot Jean Johnson.” And with that, I released my grip on the rope and dropped, plummeting into the outstretched arms of the zombies below.

It took me two days to come up with the solution for that one.  It wasn’t wasted time.  I’m glad I did it. The what if not only added pages to the book, it added depth to Margot’s character.  So don’t be afraid to try a what if. While on the surface they may appear challenging, and even time wasting, but in the end you’ll be glad you did.

About the Author 
E. Van Lowe is an Emmy nominated television writer who wrote more than what ifs for The Cosby Show, Even Stevens and others.  His first YA paranormal novel, Never Slow Dance With A Zombie was a Scholastic Book Club selection and nominated for an American Library Association Award.  The first two books in his The Falling Angels Saga, Boyfriend From Hell and Earth Angel have been Amazon top 10 Best Sellers, ranking #8 and #9 respectively in Children’s ebooks.  He is currently completing the final book in the saga, Falling.  You can find out more about him and his books on his website  For more writing tips you can follow him on Twitter http://twitter/evanlowe.

By E. Van Lowe:
 Boyfriend From Hell 
Available at your favorite online seller
Buy Now: Amazon
Fifteen year-old Megan Barnett and her single mom, Suze, have a special relationship—they are friends, close friends, who do almost everything together.
“But come on, guys, she’s my mother… Can I really tell her that while we’re snuggled up on the sofa watching Spider Man Three, I’m secretly undressing James Franco with my eyes? Of course not…”
The special bond takes a turn for the worse when Suze decides to start dating again. She hasn’t had a man in her life since Megan’s father left ten years ago.

Enter two mysterious young men, Megan’s new classmate, sinfully attractive bad boy, Guy Matson, and the dangerously handsome art dealer, Armando. Before long Megan and Suze both wind up in steamy relationships. But neither of the handsome pair is quite what he seems. In fact, one of them is Satan, with his sights set on a new bride. Megan has precious little time to figure out how to stop him. If she doesn’t, either Megan or Suze are quite literally going to HELL.


  1. Awesome advice, E. Thanks so much for stopping by to share it with fellow writers!

  2. My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

  3. Replies
    1. You're welcome! Glad you made it over here. :()


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