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There’s nothing like sitting down with a thick book or tucking into one on your tablet. But at other times, you probably want something lighter. There’s no reason you can’t have both.
Does the idea of writing a novel fill you with dread or even terror? How will you stay on track? How will you keep things interesting? How will you produce writing that keeps your Reader engaged all the way to the last word?
I don’t have a formula for this and I don’t think there is one. I also don’t think there should ever be one. Writing is organic. It’s art, even if it’s about science. An artist may know the science of light, color, and paint mixing in order to obtain the exact shade desired to depict a lake, but the creation of their painting isn’t a matter of plugging arguments into a computer program or numbers into an equation. Instead, they must visualize what they want to paint, and then translate those thoughts into the hand movements that will allow their ideas to be realized. If you’ve ever picked up a pen or a brush, you know it’s often quite difficult to get the translation of thought into words or images to happen smoothly. But humans don’t balk at seemingly impossible tasks. If we did, we wouldn’t be here. We keep going, we keep trying, we keep reproducing, writing, learning, painting, and partying, because not doing so would be deathly boring.
It takes courage and persistence to create anything, be it play, painting, poem, novel, or short story. Yes, it is possible to write a book in a few days, or a short story in hours, but neither of them would be ready for publication. I know this for sure: I wrote Wounded Bride in six days, but it took more than two years from first word to published book. I also write parts of my short fiction in a couple of hours, but I need at least an hour to revise them and eliminate those pesky typos. Yes, short fiction is “faster” to write, but if you keep writing short stories, you reach a certain point where the total number of words equals that of a novelette, a novella, and then a novel. You’ve done it. No, you haven’t written a novel, but you’ve proven that you can write that much and it never got boring. The leap from short to long isn’t anywhere near as big as it first appears. It’s not a chasm you’re about to try to bridge, but a stream you can walk across.
The difference between a collection of short stories and a novel is cohesion. Mark Kurlansky’s Edible Stories: A Novel in Sixteen Parts is a beautiful example of how novel-building works. In most novels, chapters or scenes wouldn’t be so great if read on their own. You probably wouldn’t want to start reading chapter 4 of a detective novel, or chapter 7 of a romance, but the Author may have written that chapter first. You can write your novel in any order you want, in any way you like, as long as it comes together to give your Reader a satisfyingly full picture of your characters, setting, and plot.
There’s no time like the present, so if you’ve been thinking about creating something, be it novel, painting, poem, or short story, get your keyboard, paints, notepad, and/or brush.
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