So you’ve got that novel inside of you and
the doctor says it’s got to come out. What are you going to do about it. The first thing
you have to do actually is read a lot of other novels. You don’t want to wind up rewriting
something that’s already been done. And in fact you are going to learn a lot just by
reading and thinking about the novels that other people have written. Novels that are
somewhat similar to the one you are thinking of writing, novels that are completely dissimilar.
It doesn’t matter. Just read a lot and keep reading while you are writing. Because remember
while it is possible to write a novel in a week, it’s probably not going to be very good,
and it’s not going to be very long and you’re probably not going to be able to do it. I
couldn’t do it certainly. Understand that you are in it for the long haul. Anthony Trollop
who wrote more novels then most of us, said that what you most needed was cobbler’s wax.
Cobbler’s wax is very sticky, it’s used for holding the shoe together while you are making
the shoe, and said apply it to the bottom of your pants and then sit down in the chair.
And stay there. Persistence counts for an awful lot. Know you characters. If you don’t
know you characters you won’t be able to see them behave as they are going to behave. They
won’t be able to behave like human beings. They have to become people to you. Take them
on walks. Take them to dinner. Spend time actually conversing with them in your imagination
of course. There’s a questionnaire called the Proust questionnaire which you will be
able to find on the Internet, a series of questions that Marshall Proust asked himself
periodically, ask your characters these questions and when you can answer them then you know
them well enough that you can put them through their paces and they will behave as individuals.
Don’t stick just to one story, the best novels don’t have just one story that’s very, very
long, they have a number of stories. What we call subplots that are related to the original
story and embroider on it, it’s like a braid. A braid is not just one strand of something,
it’s one strand coming down the middle with other stuff braided around it. The other stuff
is what helps make it beautiful and make it stronger. Subplots will also do that for your