Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What It Takes to be a Novelist

Patsy, my decades-long friend and writing partner from my previous professional life is a natural storyteller. She tells of happenings in the lives of family and friends. While doing so, she embellishes with rich details, she paces the information flow, and she reveals the climax at just the right time.

But Patsy says she can’t write fiction. She is the most vivid dreamer I know, and retells her dreams fluently. But she doesn’t see the connect to writing fiction. Of course she could write fiction. Why do some of us think we can write fiction and others do not? And what does she mean by that? 

By nature, we are story-telling creatures. However, she doesn’t see that the stories she tells me are ones that others would want to read. Or she doesn’t think there’s enough detail to sustain a novel. And maybe there isn’t. Because she doesn’t like reading short stories, she would never write short stories. I read and write full-length and short, myself. 

Maybe that is the disconnect. She doesn’t see how to stretch the dream into a feature-length film. Is that a difference between those who claim “fiction author“ as an identity and those who don’t? Do we see all stories as potential novels? I know I do. Ah, but the execution!

How many novels have I started in my computer files only to abandon them because, as Gertrude Stein wrote, “…there’s no there, there.” ? Great premise, but thin on the development. Maybe a short story, but not enough engaging stuff to sustain a novel. However, there are a ton of resources for dealing with the saggy, soggy middle. There are strategies for plotting. There's all kinds of help for writers learning the craft. A great resource, writeonsisters.com, is full of tips and strategies.

See, I believe Patsy could indeed write a novel. She is an avid reader who knows what makes a good story. But she has to believe she could do it, and more importantly, she would need to want to be a novelist. It’s a hard enough job when you want to and think you can. 

And if you’d like to support a novelist, check out Streetwalker on Amazon. It’s a quick, hot, hot, hot read with a lot of heart. http://amzn.to/12Lp95X

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