How many times have you seen something, done something, or thought something and said, “That would make a good novel.”
Lily King muses on this thought in an article in the NY Times, 24 July 2014:
That would make a good novel. It’s a thought you have regularly as a novelist. You go out to a friend’s house for dinner and you overhear a small, loaded exchange between her and her husband in the kitchen and a whole story starts spooling out while you are tossing the salad you bought. You don’t write it down and by morning the idea is gone, washed away like the rest of the flotsam that seemed for a delusional moment to be able to carry several hundred pages, but ends up bobbing off somewhere mentally inaccessible.
You can see the entire article at NYTimes.com: That Would Make a Good Novel.
King is right on. Record the idea immediately — easy to do with any tech device. How many good ideas or just the “right” word have you lost lately?
My best ideas come during my sleep. If I don’t write them down immediately upon awakening, they’re gone — just like a dream.
I have loved this guy since the day I was assigned Cat’s Cradle. So instead of just another book to write a book report about, I actually had something to wrap my brain around. His work has influenced me all my life.
What author has influenced your life? I know someone has to say Jane Austen–ha!
Here are Vonnegut’s writing tips:
- Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
- Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
- Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
- Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
- Start as close to the end as possible.
- Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them-in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
- Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
- Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
My first recommendation is to get the idea out of your brain, your computer, your desk, or that box in the back of your closet. You had something good at one time and bothered to write it down. So take action and reveal your secret to the world. What’s the point of writing if you don’t want to share your ideas with someone? What’s the point of looking for a cure for cancer or Alzheimer’s if you are going to keep it in a lock box? Get the idea? People are not as harsh and critical as you would expect. Most writing groups are rather nurturing and helpful. So tonight sit down for 5 minutes and jot down some ideas. Bet you can’t just write one–ha!
Even though that expression is rather trite, it is true. Stories come from everywhere. Perhaps you’re at the local laundromat and over hear the couple at the machine next to you. I’m sure that’s one for the books. Or perhaps you are the lucky one grounded on the tarmac for 3 hours with an elementary school hockey team, a high school basketball team, and crying babies scattered here and there. And not a peanut or beverage in sight! Certainly there is a short scenario like these stuck in your brain. Well, get it out. Write!
Writers can be of all ages. Young writers tend to have vivid imaginations while older writers are more focused and have more stories to tell simply because they have lived longer.
So let’s start with a discussion on writing. If you are writing, what topics are you interested in exploring? If you are not writing, why?