Monday, November 2, 2015

Want to write a novel?

     When I started writing novels, I thought, How hard can it be?  And I proceeded to write two over several months, one about Neuse River pollution by huge corporate hog-raising operations, and another about drug smuggling.  They sit out in my shed today, neither being salable.  (I tell people they’re so bad even the squirrels won’t nest in them.)

     But each of them taught me a lot. 

     Finally, I selected two best-selling novels I liked and took them apart.  That is, I read them again straight through.  Then I read them in detail, taking notes, trying to nail down how many characters and scenes there were, how the story moved, and so on.  I stripped the books down until I could begin to see the bare bones of them.  And that was an excellent exercise because I began to understand how it’s really done.  You don’t ever perceive this by just reading a lot of books, because the authors have skillfully fleshed out the bones and made it look easy, which it most assuredly is not. 

     You may want to try this exercise with a favorite book or two before setting out to write one of your own.


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