So You Want to Write a Novel

Writing a novel is an act of supreme ego. A certain level of conceit is required to imagine that you have something to say that thousands of other people are willing to pay good money to read. Assuming you have the requisite high opinion of yourself and a sufficiently thick skin to ignore those who have a different opinion of you, it is possible that you are ready to put pen to paper.

Unless you want to write some sort of avant garde nonsense, plot is the most critical element in any novel. If you are a whiz with words, but don’t have a story  to tell, write poetry. If you have a great story, but can’t put two words together, you have a future as a novelist. If you can write like the wind AND you have a great story, why are you wasting your time perusing my web site?

Too many people tell me, “You should write a novel about all the crazy things that happen in this office.” Lots of individual vignettes do not add up to a novel. You require a story that carries through the whole book, plus a moral, and a character that changes in some significant way over the course of the story. A murder helps, too.

If you do complete your novel, don’t show it to ANYONE. (Unless you are such an egotist that you cannot possibly humiliate yourself). At least for me, my first drafts are always terrible. Do not expect honest criticism from your friends. They will be even more embarrassed than you and will quickly change the subject. Let your first draft sit for a couple of months and then start your rewrite. When it’s good, you’ll know it. Let your friends discover that you are a novelist by inviting them to the book signing party.