Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Everything Doesn't Work

So you’ve had a great vacation.  Maybe you went to France for the first time.  Met some nice people there.  And after awhile you found out their secrets.

Or you had a weekend in the Hamptons with friends.  You never laughed so much in your life.

Possibly you had company for the weekend.  It was a nightmare.

You think to yourself, ‘This would make a great novel.’

No it wouldn’t.  Everything that happens to you doesn’t work as a novel.  Of  course some things do.  But these weekends or weeks of vacation probably don’t.  What you enjoyed or hated, and the people involved won’t be interesting, funny, or horrifying to others as a novel.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t use pieces of these experiences in something you’re writing.  Character traits may come from someone you met on your vacation for that one person you couldn’t get right on the page.  Or the way someone holds his fork.  Little things.

But don’t try to turn your whole experience into a novel because I promise you it won’t work.

And if you’re going to use a piece of something, please don’t translate it into a dream.


Suzanne said...

I hear you. :)

PS: I'm in love with your city.

ravaj said...

was wondering what engendered this post? too many people coming up to you and saying that they have a great idea for a novel?

the main reason i have not tried to write a novel is that i am no good at fiction. couldn't make up something plausible to save my life. on the other hand, i don't do too badly with my sermons and public speaking :-)

Sandra Scoppettone said...

Nothing special prompted this post. Yes, people have said "I've got this great idea for a novel" to me, but that's not what I was writing about. I was trying to say that if you think you want to write a novel don't assume that your own experiences will automatically make a good novel. I guess this is antithetical to the write what you know people. As a crime novelist that would be hard for me to do as I've never actually killed or robbed anyone.