copyright 2011 by Ron Adams
On the dawning of the next National Novel Writer’s Month (NaNoWriMo) in November, I have been thinking about writing the perfect novel. Personally, I don’t think it can be done, nor should it. The purpose of exercises like NaNoWriMo is to practice writing, and you don’t practice to write the perfect novel. You practice writing to become a better writer, a better storyteller, and to create a story readers will want to read again and again.You practice to master structure and form, and to create characters that readers will identify with and stand the test of time.
The perfect novel, or the perfect writer for that matter, will never exist. However, this does not mean it’s not a worthwhile goal. Like any business, and I can say this because many of us writers in the early stages of our career have day jobs, you have to accept that you can improve and make your stories better. I live to re-write, even when I hate it, because I’ve learned something that can make my writing better.
When I wrote my first novel, I was pleased after all the edits and re-writes to find a publisher willing to take it on. Then the feedback came, and it was split between kind and complimentary and harsh and insulting. I went back and re-read the story, and I earned every criticism. Maybe not the insults, but the legitimate criticism was well founded. So when I finally got the rights to my story back, I went to work and re-did a lot of the story, tightened up the characterizations and plot, improved on the picky details, and tidied the language to improve both structure and flow. I learned all these things along the way, mostly by writing, writing, writing. And in the end, the second edition of this story will be, I feel, a big improvement over the original, and much more readable.
If you’ve ever told anyone that you are a writer, and I know this has happened to me, eventually you will find someone who says they have always wanted to write, and eventually they will give you an avalanche of reasons they have never quite gotten to it. What separates a real writer from the dreamers, is the willingness to put in the hours, to hone their skills, to learn their craft and to never stop doing all those things. So, are you a writer, or what?