- By Steve Dempster
- Published 03/24/2008
Despite all the competition, most new and aspiring authors want to write a novel. This article take s a quick look at some points to consider before you put pen to paper! In the past I have written a good many articles extolling the virtues of writing that time-honoured writing form – the short story. Yet it seems that virtually everyone who has ever entertained the slightest yearning to be a writer wants to write a book – otherwise known as a novel. Novel writing is for some writers the snow on the mountain’s peak, the highest point to which a writer can aspire or hope to reach. For others, it’s a challenge akin to crossing a desert without water – a long hard slog that can only be endured by using the utmost in grit and determination. The truth about novel writing really lies somewhere between these two extremes. Fiction writers have written novels for years and years and, oddly enough, most seem to have survived the ordeal more or less unscathed. Now why is this? One reads everywhere that it’s either (a) simple to write a fiction bestseller (which is of course nonsense) or (b) it’s so hard to get a novel published that only a certain bit of magic software can do it for you (again, total rot). The real way to write a novel that will (hopefully) ultimately sell and set the writer on the road to fame and fortune lies as much in attitude and know-how as it does in raw talent.
So what does this statement mean? Well, take a young boy who can run pretty fast. That’s his raw talent. Let’s say he’s p
retty good at jumping low fences too. Take this boy and train him, shape his mental attitude and show him how to do things professionally and maybe, just maybe you then have an Olympic-level hurdler on your hands. On the other hand, don’t show him anything, don’t tell him what to look out for or what not to do and chances are he’ll grow up into a man who can – you guessed it – run pretty fast and jump low fences . . . Now I’m not suggesting that merely by training a writer in the realities of novel writing and by showing said writer the way forward that they’ll be the next John Grisham or Terry Pratchett. They may never be published at all. Yet by knowing the way to write a novel, how a writer’s life works and how to be a professional in outlook, that writer stands a much better chance of winning through than one who has just started the task with little or no preparation. There’s an old saying that goes: forewarned is forearmed. If a budding writer is given the know-how that enables him or her to reliably and consistently write good fiction, especially if it’s for the right market and at the right time, then that writer is streets ahead of the pack. Being a writer isn’t just about putting a story down on paper. It’s as much about deciding on what your niche is going to be within the writing world, what books you want to write and how long it’s all going to take to get done.
The decision to write a novel is, therefore, a big one and not to be taken lightly. Make sure you have all the tools and know-how you need at your disposal before you start and there’s a much, much greater chance that you will finish that book – and get it published!