On Writing A Novel


No preamble today… unless this counts as one.

My first idea for my current book, a fantasy fiction piece, came to me this past February.  In less than a year, I have worked on character development (physical descriptions, personal histories, etc) setting (location, time, geography) chapter structure, history of the people/land, and some plot.

Frustratingly, the question I get asked most is “don’t authors start with a story line first, then work from there?”

Perhaps I should be more understanding.  Most people have not tried writing a novel.  Most people don’t watch/listen to interviews with authors about their writing process or read books on the pros/cons of outlining your novel before writing.  Most people are not writers… but if you are, you might see where my frustration comes from.

My difficulties come when I try to share a new piece of the book with a family member or friend and they ask if I really want to “share all my secrets” before the book is done.  What I want to tell them is that the average writer doesn’t sit down one day, stamp out a novel, and hand one out to each important person in their lives.  In my humble opinion, writers need input – both from other writers and from readers – before anything of worth can be published.

In my experience, the biggest reason to share ideas is that someone else might be the one to come up with a suggestion for an ending or a proposed name or a thought about the plot.  After all, one of my favorite characters in my own book was named by Cullen.

Question time:

If you are a writer, who helps you the most in your endeavors?  Who understands your process the best?  Which professional authors, if any, do you take writing cues from?  (I like the different styles of Terry Brooks and Patrick Rothfuss, as shown here (part one) in their interview of each other.)

If you’re not a writer, do you enjoy learning about the writing process, or do you prefer to just have the finished product in your hands?

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About jmmack

Full-time swim coach and pool program manager in the Seattle area. Swimmer, writer, cross-stitcher, HP fan, wife, sister, auntie of two nephews, human to a feisty Jack-Russell mix.
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One Response to On Writing A Novel

  1. Cullen says:

    As a reader, I can say that I never really had much interest in the writing process (other than yours of course!), but after finally reading the Rothfuss/Brooks interview, I’m much more interested. Now I actually want to go read up in each of their blogs.

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