Why write? Well, in some ways, writing a novel is a lot like life. What it takes to succeed in writing fiction–perseverance, perspective, pride, overcoming your fear of mockery and of failure–can help shape you into a person ready to spring out into the world, be the best you that you can be, and make things better both for you and for other people.
However, there are some lessons that, while they’re important in life, don’t work so well when you sit down at the keyboard. Or with your pen and paper.
So remember, while you should adopt these policies in actual interactions with others, you can’t always abide by them in writing.
- PLAY NICE WITH OTHERS. We all learn this as a kid: the importance of sharing, and being friendly, and being kind. Hopefully, we learn to protect those weaker than us. Well, that doesn’t fly with your characters. You can’t shelter your characters. You have to let them live and learn and make their own mistakes. Otherwise, their stories won’t be worth telling. Don’t we all make and learn from mistakes? Why should your characters be otherwise privileged not to be like the rest of us? You want readers to relate to your characters, right?
- DON’T JUDGE BY APPEARANCE. You have to, and you should strive to, judge your writing by appearance: only by what’s on the page. What’s on the page is what your readers will see. They won’t have access to your mind: to what you meant to be saying, to the background information about your characters that’s on that character sheet but didn’t make it into the novel.
- STOP EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE TO “SMELL THE ROSES.” Pacing matters. While you might need a scene or two of comic relief, or a moment of downtime to allow your readers to relax and to digest a big action scene–you don’t want to stop and “smell the roses” in your writing. You never want nothing to be happening. If a character stops and smells the roses, she better be thinking and planning or maybe even scheming. Her thinking better bring her to an important resolution of some kind. Someone important to the story better run into her in the park. Every scene must have a purpose in developing your plot and your characters. (You probably don’t need two pages describing a setting in detail when the setting only appears once and the details have no effect on the plot.