Writing a novel requires commitment. Not only to the writing process, to your agent, editor, critique group, or writing partners, but first and foremost, writing a novel requires a commitment to the story you wish to tell.
In an exercise to help writers determine how well they really know the story they wish to tell, I posed the following 8 questions to the Northshore Wordsmiths writing class today:
1/ Living, dead, or imaginary; who is the person you would most like to be, or to spend a lengthy period of time with? While answers ranged from Abraham Lincoln to Mother Theresa to Daisy Duck, each participant gained insight into the type of character they would most want to write about.
2/ Explain the appeal: The second question followed naturally upon the first and elicited answers that were even more revealing. While I would like to spend time with Daisy Duck because she has a mix of great friends and in her world simple everyday events are exciting, the writer who would choose to shadow Lincoln wanted to learn more about his legendary strange quirks. Elements of theme and detail began to percolate among the group.
3/How would you spend the next year of your life if family and finances were not a concern? By answering this question, writers began to understand that by choosing plot lines and settings that were personally exciting to them, it would be easier to sustain their writing over a lengthy project.
4/ If you could have 300 of something, what would it be? One member surprised herself by answering, “dogs”. Do you see a children’s book in her future?
5/ If you had a staff, what would you have them do? Answers to this question can bring to light those daily activities that steal our time, energy, and joy.
6/What is the most interesting thing you have thought about in the last 3 months? Whatever it is—a stray thought, a news item, or an unusual occurrence—if you found it compelling, others will too.
7/ What is the first thing you remember being curious about? Thinking about this question can bring a sense of wonder to your writing.
8/ If you had to reread a book a dozen times, which book would it be? By now you will know what type of story will sustain your interest long enough for you to put pen to paper or fingertips to keyboard until your dream of writing a novel has been realized.