Writing a Novel is Hard
Yes, yes it is. Quality is hard, weaving a good tale is hard, getting it out of your heart and mind and soul, and putting it on paper in a way that makes sense to other people is hard. Do you ever wish there was a device you could hook to your brain that would write what you’re thinking? I do, all_the_time.
Not only is writing a novel hard, but it’s also scary. It’s scary, worrying that you won’t be able to properly express the amazing story you have in you. It’s scary thinking about all the thousands of words you must carefully craft to enchant the reader and transport them to your world. It’s scary choosing which way the story should go, there are so many possibilities! Which one is right? Which one would go over the best? How do you choose?
Stories are such powerful, precious things. There is an enormous responsibility that weighs on your shoulders as you work to craft one worthy of what has come before (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Narnia, Star Wars, and many many more).
Writing for Passion vs Popularity
As I try to make headway on my current novel, my muse is caught in a tangled web of convoluted possibilities. There’s so many ways I could go, so many details that I could do just a bit different and change the feel of the whole story. Which way should I go? Which path should I choose? It’s a daunting and frightening task, more-so as I’m tempted to only consider the question that is the death of any writer: what would be most popular?
If you find yourself in this position, stuck on plot development because you can’t decide which path to choose in order to make the story most marketable, beware. Though it is important to consider audience, a story built on “popular demand” will very likely lack that spark from the writer’s heart, that muse’s stamp of approval that connects to your reader’s heart and makes your book so compelling.
If you don’t feel compelled by your plot, nobody else will either. If you feel no passion for your story, no one else will either. If you aren’t in love with your characters, no one else will love them either. So don’t write what you don’t love.
At the same time, however, you have to write realistically (see my previous post on feelings). Therefore you should think about what will connect with your audience. You can’t always have the ending that you want in your story, you need an ending that makes sense, and that makes a good story.
For example, I’m pretty sure J.K.Rowling didn’t want to kill off Sirius Black (my absolute favorite character in those books), but she knew it needed to be a part of the story. Often people have to die in books, because people in real life die. There is death and suffering in our world, and to connect with the reader, our writing needs to be realistic (this excludes fairy tales/children’s stories that are not supposed to be realistic of course).
Write from the Heart
After months of painful indecision on how to form and write the story that’s been in my heart for 6 years, I’ve finally decided to just do it. I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from friends and family, some helpful and some not. I’ve also thought a lot about my current culture, as well as what kind of books and story types are being written right now. But in the end, I just have to follow what’s in my heart, because that is where the story comes from. No, it might not become a best seller, or even a moderately good seller, but it’s a story that needs to be told.
There are things that I’m afraid to make a part of my story. I’m a Christian, a sinner saved by the grace of God, and it influences every part of me from worldview to politics to lifestyle. How much of what I believe should I include in my story? How overt should it be? Will people hate my book because I write from a Christian perspective? Yes, they will. So including it anyway is hard, and frightening. Nobody wants to be hated for what they believe, me least of all. Despite my fears, I must write from my heart, because that is where the story comes from.
Moral of the story? Be true to yourself and write from your heart. Not without wisdom, not without skill, not without careful thought, but still, from your heart.
May each of you find the strength to draw that story from your heart and paint it on the page of life so that others can benefit from its truth.