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Friday, April 8, 2011

So You Think You Can Be a Novelist? - Part One

So you think you can be a novelist? Really? Hmmm . . . you might want to ask yourself these questions before you commit:
  • Are you a frequent reader?
  • Have you written anything else?
  • Are you an avid and daily learner?
  • Do you have a writing support network?
  • Have you published anything?
If you answered "no" to any of these questions, you might want to think again.

Are you a frequent reader?

Find me a successful novelist (by successful, I mean one who actually quit his day job) who wasn't first a reader and I'll kiss your feet. How could you possibly know anything about writing if you don't read? And if you don't read books because you think it might detract from your own writing style (I've actually heard this one before), I just have to ask: Seriously?

Just like a child's behavior is heavily formed through a plethora of observations of life, a writer's style is heavily formed through a plethora of observations of other storytellers' work. And reading both the good and the bad sets in your own writing mind what to and not to do.

Don't read, that's fine. Sure, your style might be raw and original, but your grammar, punctuation, and technique sucks. Oh, and your story's likely already been told . . . and told . . . and retold (which you would have known had you been reading the kind of stuff you like to write). Then there's your writing theory, flow, format, characterization, redundancy, verbosity - do you even know what these are? If you've been reading, you have a pretty good idea. If not, well . . . at least you have that raw, original style.

I'm not trying to be insulting. My goal is to help you be successful in your writing endeavors. Take a hard look at your writing skill level. You just can't wake up one day and say "I think I'm going to start a novel today" when the only books you've ever read are the CliffsNotes for assigned high school reading.

I take that back. Anyone can write a novel, but if you're not first a reader, don't sit around wondering why in the world the darn thing isn't getting published.


Join me in a couple of days for part two of this five-part series. In part two, I will explore the second question on the bullet list above: Have you written anything else?

By the way, if you happen to be an exception - a successful author (meaning you've quit your day job) who doesn't read, my readers and I would love to hear from you.

Post by: LWC Director, Karen Aldridge. Visit her personal blog at My Writing Loft.

1 comment:

Cece Dockins said...

I've learned more through reading than I have through any workshop or college course.