Guidelines for Writing a novelWriting guidelines for a novel
Three rules for novel composition
With all due regard to Somerset Maugham, there are three precepts for novelists and I know what they are. Now it is quite customary to listen at meetings and in class rooms in our preferred country, in militant and derogatory sounds, that there are no simple and unmistakable regulations when it comes to the arts of the novel!
I' m assuming that I address authors who actually want to publish, either to a conventional publishers or directly to self-publishers. You get bored with the readership, you don't want to buy the work. Or at least, if the readership makes it to the end, you don't buy your next one.
It'?s a general principle. Actually, it's a statute, just like gravitation. Fiction that sells is about someone in difficulty. Nicholson Baker's The Mezzanine's storyteller just tries to get from the entrance hall of his offices to the next floor via an autowheel. But the point is that every novel must have some fire, not just an arrangement of lighters and tree trunks.
Those books that not only sold, but endured have something of the author's striking hearts. I think we could work through a book like that, from To Knight A Mockingbirdby Harper Lee to Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch film. When we work on vocals and styles in my workshops, I mentioned two books published in 1957.
But both became best-sellers and still today are selling tens of thousands of them. Regardless of how one finally expresses the virtues of one of the two books, what cannot be ignored is that each page is pulsating with the writer's voices and view. So, put your mind into every single part of your novel.
That'?s a good one. Well, when a author says, "There are no rules," I guess what he really says is that there is no way to do the things we have been discussing here. Then it' up to the author to make decisions. When an author chooses not to use a proven methodology, she should at least know why.
As an example, we often discuss beginning a novel with a catch (or, as I like to put it, a "disturbance"), but what if you want to begin your story with ten pages of settings and descriptions? Maybe you can make these ten pages so interesting that the reader wants them to go on and on.
Then you could choose that it is better to use the method of beginning with an error and letting go into detail within the offense. This is a technology that can be learned and practiced. Every time you are teaching technology, you restrict the author and suffocate everything that is good and inventive! Technology didn't suffocate Gershwin, it liberated him.