I’ve always felt I have a novel inside of me. When I hear someone say this, a mental image appears of surgery being performed on the speaker to extract their story. Dripping with the experience of life, it emerges from the donor, be it memoir, fiction or a travelogue of sub-Saharan Africa.
There is almost no one on this planet who has led a totally uninteresting life. Even then the reason they have led such a life might in itself be interesting. A twenty-first century glut of celebrity memoirs and novels shows everyone is capable of producing a story of sorts (although we know they sometimes get a little help along the way). The trick is in the writing. Does it engage the target audience? Fact or fiction, there is an art to storytelling. In Ireland a shanachie is a gifted verbal storyteller. To hear one is to never forget the story or the shanachie (Niall de Burca is a good example). A novel author should look to leave the same impression.
Unless you are trained in writing, it’s unlikely that you will produce a best-selling masterpiece with your first attempt at writing a novel. Those that do often have an education and career in journalism behind them, having written to the moon and back.
Disheartened? Well, there is another alternative. Pick up one, or why not several, of the renowned How To books on writing. Read them all, digest and internalise the content and apply immediately to your writing. Wait a minute, isn’t that writing by numbers? Will the result resemble a picture painted by numbers, similarly lacking in spontaneity and creativity? More than likely, yes
So now we come to the crux of the matter. As a new author if you want to write a good novel then, in almost all cases, you need to build your experience of writing. You might be a marathon writer, throwing yourself at an entire novel. Alternatively you’re a sprinter and that means short stories. Either way, a literary athlete. I hope you’re dressed appropriately.
This post is an extract from The New Author by Ruby Barnes, 200 pages of tips and guidance on writing, social media and e-publishing. Available at all good e-bookstores.
If you've enjoyed reading Ruby's blog then please sign up to Ruby's News for freebies, advance review copies of upcoming novels and occasional updates. Thanks!