Thursday, August 23, 2007

You can write a novel!

Someone said the other day that he had given up the idea of tackling a novel. He just didn't have enough material for such an intimidating project. He preferred short stories. But alas, there isn't much market for those. Unless you are an established writer and publishers are clamoring for the notes you jot down on the back of a napkin, it isn't likely you'll publish a collection of short stories.

What to do?

The person went on to say he has written many humorous short stories and vignettes about a doctor who has a fascination for moose. (Or is it mooses?) While rereading them, he was laughing and getting all sorts of ideas for more stories. As soon as I read that I knew he had his novel. It was just disguised as a bunch of short stories.

These vignettes could become scenes and the backbone for a wonderful novel...or better yet, a series of novels. I started getting ideas for this dashing, single doctor in a small Canadian or Alaskan town myself. I made up the last part. I don't know anything about his character. But see how the mere suggestions sparks more and more ideas.

Don't be overwhelmed by the thought of a novel. People ask me all the time how I can come up with 100,000 words about any topic. Being long winded and a person who loves to know more and more about any subject, it isn't that hard. If you are a naturally nosy person who is always asking questions, you have a novel inside you.

Don't be afraid to let it out.

Let's pretend you have also written several short stories. They may be totally unrelated. Short stories are great practice for your novel. I suggest you start with them first. But anyway, read through those short stories. Is there one that stands out from the rest? Does it beg you to ask: What next? Who is this character? Can he carry a novel? Are the setting and minor characters interesting enough to warrant further investigation?

One of those short stories could be the beginning of your novel. Don't let the notion overwhelm you? Maybe there isn't a novel in you. But maybe, just maybe, and this is the exciting part, the next great novel is waiting just below your subconscious for a spark of an idea to release it into the world.

Go crazy!

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