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Author Topic: "How Not to Write a Novel"
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"7 Things That Will Doom Your Novel (& How to Avoid Them)," James Scott Bell, March 29, 2016 Writers Digest blog guest post. Aside from craft dissertations, Bell is best known for legal thriller novels, Final Witness, for one.

A hilarious, ironic, and toxic sarcasm satire about how to successfully, efficiently, magnanimously not write a novel, any narrative, any writing.

Bullet points:
  1. Wait for inspiration.
  2. Look over your shoulder.
  3. Ignore the craft.
  4. Keep a chip on your shoulder.
  5. Write for the market only.
  6. Take as many shortcuts as possible.
  7. Quit.

Hmm, c'est moi? Guilty as charged, kind of like not really 3 through 7, especially not 7; 1, maybe 2, yeah. One I'd add I'm complicit in, Outweigh one craft study area over others. Treatment: balance and proportion that reaches only as far as the fingertips can scratch.

And give yourself a lifetime break from the hassle, effort, commitment, and accomplishment pesters for successful not writing. Otherwise, a brief sporadic break here and there can be an occasional occasion when inspiration truly can be productive and provoke epiphany.

From "Being a Glossary of Terms Useful in Critiquing Science Fiction" by Clarion workshops' David Smith: "Dare to be stupid. An exhortation by a critic to an author whom the critic thinks is not stretching enough. Authors grow by daring to write bolder, more imaginative, more personal, or more emotionally powerful situations and confrontations. Since writing that stretches is by definition unpracticed, the result may be rougher than a less ambitious effort. The author must trust the critics to recognize the stretch and help the author build or expand his talents. (CSFW: Steve Popkes)"

And especially don't give the self permission to be bold, to dare, to flail, to be "stupid," to flop and flounder, and do try and try again to not write a novel.

[ December 31, 2017, 08:42 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Jack Albany
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Another way not to write a novel, or anything else for that matter, is to allow yourself to be literally creatively overwhelmed and paralysed by an intuitive revelation about certain aspects of narrative structure and construction that appear simple and straightforward in the blossoming but reveal themselves to be deeper of meaning and implication than anything this writer has ever experienced.

The literary burning bush has spoken to me, damn it. [Smile] Now to tend the embers and get off my butt and start writing, despite the trepidation.

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"I write when I'm inspired, and I see to it that I'm inspired at nine o'clock every morning." Peter DeVries, cited in the "How Not to Write a Novel" article linked above. (DeVries, Peter. 1980 September 28, The Observer, Sayings of the week, Quote Page 12, Column 3, London, UK. ProQuest) That gnome is also attributed earlier, in other words, by Herman Wouk to William Faulkner in a Washington Post article, 1966, and to Somerset Maugham, 2002, and attributed to others.

Mostly, the quip exhorts consistency of practice and to just do it, good practice advice, though from a survivorship bias that "I" did, or I do, so anyone can, so not a best practice, good enough.

I like these sayings, too: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit."(Aristotle, who famously said, "An unexamined life is not worth living.") And "If you don't have calluses on your soul, writing isn't for you. Take up knitting instead." (David Eddings, also cited in the above linked article.) That one is a favorite due to it's a ironic litotes that affirms the positive opposite of the negation statement: writers do have callused souls, why we write, includes we are hardest on ourselves' souls and deserve a break cut out from life's frictions every now and then. All the above are not not how to write a novel.

[ January 03, 2018, 07:30 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Member # 9148

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For the first post.

Makes sense

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