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Camp Care Package #3: Don't be afraid to cut the slow bits.

Author Yangsze Choo is your Camp Counselor this week. Find all Camp Care Packages in Breaking News throughout the month of July, or learn more about Camp NaNoWriMo!

1) Don't be afraid to cut the slow bits: 

If you feel your book is dragging, perhaps this is a sign that the slow bits aren’t necessary. I think that readers can tell when the writer has lost interest in the narrative—from my own experience, those parts of the novel that I’ve particularly enjoyed writing are often the most alive and vivid. Don’t be afraid to cut. Passages often find new life in other settings. I keep all sorts of loose thoughts and sentences in a Word doc while I’m working on a book. It’s rather like having a bin of extra ideas!

Writing Dare: Think about the next scene in your story that excites you, and write that! If you're not sure what scene will excite you, try this: get your main character to do something they're terrified of! Jump off a cliff into the ocean? Give a sudden speech to an airplane full of people? Sneak into the lion's enclosure at the zoo? 

2) Don't force the flow:

The act of writing is to create, and sometimes it is easier to let that urge manifest itself in other ways, if you feel stuck. Draw, knit, cook, fix a bike, plant a pot garden, or make something with your hands—whatever renews you. It is often through doing something else that I feel rejuvenated about writing. Don’t force it. The flow will come back to you.

Writing Dare: Give your character a hobby they can do with their hands, and write a scene where they figure something out while doing it. Maybe the detective solves the murder while planting a flower! Or the teenager realizes she should go on a road trip while sculpting a pot! Or, if you feel stuck, take a break to do something else with your hands. 

author photo

Yangsze Choo is a NYTimes bestselling author of The Ghost Bride (soon to be a Netflix Original series) and The Night Tiger, Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club Pick, Amazon's Spotlight Pick, and one of USA Today’s best books of the year. Yangsze loves to eat and read, and often does both at the same time. She lives in California with her family and several chickens. Dark chocolate is her writing inspiration. Visit her blog at

What's up at Camp?

  • Have free time or need some inspiration? Find your next book (or share your current one) in the "What'chu Reading?" forum thread.

  • Our newest NaNoWriMo book, Brave the Page, is available for preorder! Take a sneak peek at this fun writing handbook for young writers.

  • Finished with your Camp project early? The New York Times Learning Network offers a Summer Reading Contest with a chance to enter each and every week until August 23. Set a new goal and start writing (and submitting!). 
  • Check out the Camp NaNoWriMo Calendar to stay up to date on what's happening, including Virtual Write-Ins every Wednesday at 1 P.M. Pacific!

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