The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, December 06, 2004

On writing Novels

I've been asked what I think about books instructing people how to write novels.  This is in light of the fact that I reccomend that you begin with short stories.  Well, I think they're great!  But they're something like books teaching you how to train for a marathon.  That's wonderful, but if you've never run around the block, you might want to start there.  If you just want to write a book, great, but if you want to write one that can sell, you'd better make sure you've got your chops together.  Chances are that if you had all the skills, you'd be published already.  The safe bet is to make your mistakes in smaller batches--much easier to spot and correct them.  The "Lifewriting" technique is a very specific model of writing that does not exclude any other methodology, although it does make a case for certain strictures: balancing plot and character, balancing work and life and body, taking small actions every day that lead you to your goal, becoming more and more sensitive to the connection between thought, action, and results.  I'm just being honest about a process I've seen work for hundreds of people.  Of COURSE there are other approaches.  I'm just presenting mine, and the reasoning behind it, as clearly and honestly as I can.

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