Creating a Novel v.s. Building a Story

Today has been a mellow, peaceful Sunday spent reading, napping and catching a movie. Between The Forever War by Joe Haldeman and Rules Don’t Apply¬†(movie with Warren Beatty), I had a realisation.

How-To v.s. Content
On my Road to Writerville I’ve read countless How-To books on everything from character to plot to dialogue (some of it even stuck). Today I realised that I have been so busy focusing on the How-To that I’ve neglected content.

My research on the subject matter of my books has never been as deep as it could be. I’ve been more focused on creating a novel than building a story.

A balance has to be struck
I’ve never agreed with the “write what you know” maxim which is probably why I focused on technical how-to so much. I don’t want to write what I know – I want to write what I’m fascinated in. But just because I’m fascinated in something, doesn’t mean I know enough about it to write convincingly.

Wild Write Your Passion
In one of Natalie Goldberg’s books she says (I paraphrase) “wild write your passion”. What she’s saying, I think, is that the more you write, research and live your passion, the deeper the colour of that passion will seep into your skin so when you do finally sit down to write, you will be writing what you know.

Reading “How-To” books will only take us so far. After that, we have to move on from meta-writing and get interested in the real world.

My favourite quote is still from Henry David Thoreau: “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

Have an excellent day.
Tina