How to write a novel

I've been chatting with P.D. P is a well known crime fiction writer. The topic was sparked by a question P was asked the other day by one of his readers. It happens to be one of the most asked questions: "How does one write a novel?", followed by "What education does one need to become a writer?"

Ho to write a novel? It isn't something that can be answered in a single post. In fact, I doubt it can be answered at all. One can try though. So, P and I started with the second question, which is ludicrous on many levels. Education. What is it good for? We've agreed that the value of education in life is highly overrated.

Why? Well, let's use an example the majority of people can relate to: how much of the higher education does one use in everyday life, including at work? Sure, in some cases education is necessary: one can hardly be a doctor, an engineer or an astronomer without very specialized education, but the majority of us? The actors, the journalists, bureaucrats, writers? Is it really necessary to attain higher education to have an ear for music, to feel music, to be able to interpret music in such a way as to evoke feelings in one's audience? The same can be asked about writers. What is it that one can learn in order to write compellingly? Thomas Mann never even finished high school. Can higher education provide one with what is needed to write the way Thomas Mann did? Can it teach one to understand the evolution that's happening in art and culture?

P and I agreed that the drive and reverence for titles is nothing but folly that leads nowhere. Lemme give you an example. So many folks are convinced that one needs a creative writing course in order to write a novel. I know many who thought that way. Not one of them wrote anything, and what's even worse - every single one left the course (offered by the university) with the following conviction: writing is black magic that only chosen can master. As a result of it the people who took the course gave up any plans for writing. Education that was to teach them to write had the opposite effect.

Is there any education helpful for writers? Doubtful. There is but one exception though: education that leads to life experiences that can be turned into works of art. Check out some of the writings by professionals, such as the emerge doc who wrote short stories dealing with working at a hospital (his name eludes me). And that is where the crux of the matter is: it is the experience of life that feeds the mind, is then processed, and turned into art.

1 comment:

  1. I like your thoughts , but apart from osmosis , is there not some structural issues , such as grammar,syntax

    JK reply: Sure, but the subject is so vast that I reserved the above for another post. In fact, if I get around to it, I hope to write a whole series, with a thriller-writing point of view. Till then!