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How I Write a Novel
bibliomaniac
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Somerset Maugham said, "There are three rules for writing a novel.  Unfortunately, no one knows what they are."  I've quoted this a hundred times, but I still have to remind myself of this home truth as I begin a new book.

Looking back on my bibliography, and recalling the process through which each book came to life, my memory seems to have been filtered through rose-colored glass.  I look at one of my novels--The Terrorists of Irustan, for example--and it seems to me that it poured out of me, smoothly, surely, with nary a foot put wrong or a plot twist gone awry.  I wrote every day, delivered it on time, revised to editorial request, celebrated a job well done, with never a moment of angst.

NOT.  Beloved husband and beloved son remind me, with every book, that I always complain that it's hopeless, that it's a piece of trash no one will ever want to read, that it has all gone wrong.  This usually happens at about p. 200, I believe.  The rush of the original concept, the great fun of creating characters, the synopsis--which is much easier to write than the work itself--are all over.  After p. 200, it has to work.  And I agonize.  I say to my family, "This one is different, worse!" and they say, "Heard that before."

I'm a little past p. 200 in the current work.  I doubt my momentum.  I question the central tension.  I worry over structure.  I ponder too many points of view, or not enough.  The characters, bless them, have come to life in my mind, and now they won't change if I need them to.  My antagonist fascinates me, as my bad guys so often do, but I'm fearful my protagonists are too good, too sweet, too honorable.  I need subplots!  I need voices!  I need drama!

I'm quite sure this one is different.  Worse.  And I wish Maugham had figured out those damned rules.

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Louise marley

Louise marley