Novel Writing Skills

Posted by Backyard Urban Gardening on Friday, November 23, 2007

I read a blog article tonight by Jerry Pournelle where he responds to a question from a wanna be novelist.

"If you already are comfortable writing English sentences with good grammar and sentence construction, and you understand what paragraphs are, so you are asking only how to get into fiction, the simple answer is that no one can teach you that. You either know how to think up stories or you don't."

I'm not sure whether I agree completely with that response, but I agree with the basic premise of the necessary skills. However, possessing the skills to write a fiction novel, and having the desire and dedication to put those skills into practice, are two different things.

For example, I know someone who once made 95 out of 100 free throws at a contest, but who never played in an actual basketball game. I once knew an avid runner who could run 10-miles in under an hour, but who had absolutely no desire to run in a competitive race. I also know a talented poker player who does very well playing in charity poker tournaments, but who has never stepped foot inside a real casino.

I think I understand the disconnection and lack of desire that these people must feel and I think I understand why so many people say they want to write a best-selling novel, but then never put pen to paper to make it happen.

Committing to write a novel, or attempting to write one, requires that the would be author step out of their normal comfort zone. It means telling family and friends about it, and sacrificing personal pursuits, time with loved ones, and prioritizing activities to find the time to write. And there is a very good chance, a likelihood even, that after all the effort and sacrifice, no one will want to read it anyway.


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