Learning to Write a Novel, Part 1

Fear #1
Me: “Hello, I am writing a novel.” (I reach out my hand in friendly greeting.)
Complete stranger: (Offering a patronizing pat on my knuckles.)  “Your hubris and idiocy surprise me.”

Based on this video (which is hysterical), my theoretical stranger may have reason to doubt the motivation and commitment of any would-be novelist.

However, I am the first to say that writing a novel takes determination and steady work. I have spent the last four years reading, studying, and writing. I wish I could say I have a polished manuscript to show for my labors, but I don’t. I have an horrendous first draft and a second draft that is “showing promise” along with countless pages of notes and studies. For the sake of my sanity, I’ll call all of this “honing my craft.”

Perhaps my theoretical stranger is really saying “why bother?”

I bother because fiction, at it’s best, is not an escape from reality but a conscious decision to dive into the reality that hovers just below the surface of daily life. Characters take the author and the reader deeper into the the human condition than most of us dare to go. Simply put, fiction is amplified reality.

That said, I tend to read more non-fiction than fiction and as I labor to finish my second draft, I know this must change. My next post will outline my plan to learn directly from those who have published meaningful, challenging fiction.

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