Novel writing

I’ve planned to cut down on my teaching over the summer, as I’m determined to finish the revision of ‘The Piano Player’s Son’, but I’ve got one new course in Malvern starting this afternoon. It’s supposed to be on the novel, but seems to be a bit of a mixture of novel, short story, experienced writers, not so experienced and a few poeple I haven’t met before! So, hope I will be able to produce something that makes everybody happy.

Thinking about writing a novel, I’ve come across a couple of writing tips from Rose Tremain, a writer whose work I enjoy:
* Respect the way characters may change once they’ve got fifty pages of life in them. Revisit your plan at this stage and see whether certain things have to be altered to take account of these changes.
* In the planning stage of a book, don’t plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it.

I like both of these ideas. They combine two aspects I think are important – the value of a plan, but also the need to keep this plan fluid. You must be responsive to the needs of the characters. And the fact that the ending of the novel has to be earned by what goes before is exactly right.

When I was writing ‘Unravelling’, I had a definite ending in mind. The more I wrote, the more I realised that my planned ending wasn’t right for my characters and the journeys they were travelling on. It points up again the difference between real life and fiction – real life is random; fiction is crafted.

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