Novel Writing Quotes features quotes about writing novels, by traditionally published novelists with major publishers, drawn from recent articles at Writing Historical Novels, Writing Teen Novels, Writing Novels in Australia, and elsewhere.
The regular contributors to these novel writing sites for 2013 include New York Times (US), Sunday Times (UK), Globe and Mail (Canada) and Der Spiegel (Germany) bestselling novelists.
I would never say that I write autobiography but I like to say that I write personal stories, because I do cull a lot from my life and from people around me and things that I see, as I imagine most authors do. It gets more difficult with each project because writers look for new aspects of their personality to mine, and usually it’s that first book that is the culmination of a life’s worth of experiences. *** US graphic novelist Stephen Emond at http://writingteennovels.com/2013/02/08/writing-personal-stories-for-teens-by-stephen-emond.
So, what does a structural edit do? It ensures the foundations of the story are strong and true. It looks at the basic premise, the conflicts, the number of points of view, the setting, pacing, and the story arc. It’s the point when scenes can be retold in a different POV to strengthen the reader’s connection or more scenes can be added to show another dimension of the characters’ conflict. *** Australian novelist Helene Young at http://writingnovelsinaustralia.com/2013/02/08/structural-editing-by-helene-young.
Research is an intimate part of writing historical fiction. It’s the foundation upon which each good story rests, and as such, it needs to be robust and well-laid. In my opinion, without a good basis in reality or fact, historical fiction becomes either historical fantasy or alternate history. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with those genres - I’m fond of them myself, especially the latter - but they fall into a different classification to the books I write. *** Sunday Times bestselling historical novelist Ben Kane at http://writinghistoricalnovels.com/2013/02/08/on-research-to-write-historical-novels-by-ben-kane.
A good teen novel tells a unique story through a unique perspective. In your own writing, write the story from the point of view of a character who can tell that specific story. Your story cannot be so vague that just anyone could narrate it – your narrator must be the one person who can tell the story in this way. Additionally, you need to know your story enough to add in the clues – foreshadowing and more – that give depth to the reading and make the book better to experience on a second reading. And finally, your narrative must be as personal as possible. Making it personal makes it true, and a true story (not necessarily a nonfiction, but a story that is true-to-life) is one of the most important things we as writers can do. ***
New York Times bestselling Young Adult novelist Beth Revis at http://writingteennovels.com/2013/02/07/markus-zusaks-the-book-thief-and-what-makes-a-good-teen-novel-by-beth-revis.
Convincing characters are even more challenging to create in historical fiction. Their decisions are constrained by real historical events and people. Their assumptions about religion, science, morality, and ambition are different than those of the 21st Century. Conditions are cruder, lifespans shorter, disease more common, punishments harsher, pain familiar, and hunger more than an abstraction. How do we get in their heads? *** New York Times bestselling historical novelist William Dietrich at http://writinghistoricalnovels.com/2013/02/07/creating-convincing-characters-for-historical-novels-by-william-dietrich.
Setting can include the history of a place, the people, the culture, the food, the dancing, the music, the assumptions of the characters, their religion, the mood, that intangible atmosphere… the list goes on. Setting is where and when and who and what and how. Setting is how it smells and sounds and feels, what it looks and tastes like. Setting is what makes the hairs rise on the back of your neck, and, if the writer does it right, setting is what transports the reader away from his/her bench in the school cafeteria to a world they want to stay in for a while. *** Author of teen novels, Amy Kathleen Ryan, at http://writingteennovels.com/2013/02/06/setting-in-teen-novels-by-amy-kathleen-ryan.
It is a tremendous temptation to use real people in historical novels. The famous, the infamous, the eccentric, cry out to get onto the pages. Perhaps the monstrous most of all; like Vlad the Impaler and Rasputin. But they were real people, and the more recent ones may well have living descendents. Do you want your grandfather or your great grandfather on the pages of someone else’s novel? It may be okay if they’re witty and brave and beautiful. What if they aren’t? What if you knew them, or a lot about them, and the word portrait is simply horribly inaccurate? They don’t need to have been portrayed as guilty of a crime, just being callous or stupid. *** New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling novelist Anne Perry at http://writinghistoricalnovels.com/2013/02/06/using-real-people-in-your-historical-novels-by-anne-perry.
I love historical fiction: from childhood, all the novels that have changed and challenged my reading and writing life have been full of the lives and voices of the past. And I dislike historical fiction too: I dislike the kind which uses togas or carriages as so much set-dressing for modern emotions, beliefs and politics, and I dislike the shopworn storytelling of the C S Forester-imitators, and the ‘Regency’ drivel of would-be Heyers. Above all, I dislike the docu-drama novel which does nothing but add wooden dialogue to the text-book story. *** Sunday Times bestselling historical novelist Emma Darwin at http://writinghistoricalnovels.com/2013/02/04/writing-a-secret-alchemy-between-and-beyond-historical-facts-by-emma-darwin.
Adventure stories will need to set the hero a challenge and then allow the hero to face this, overcome difficulties, and win out by the end of the story. If you are writing about a war and want to include large scale battles and sieges then you will want to decide why the characters should be there, how this will affect them, and what role it plays in their story. Simply grafting them on because readers will expect a big battle at the end will not work if the event is not integrated. *** Historical novelist and historian, Adrian Goldsworthy, at http://writinghistoricalnovels.com/2013/02/02/choosing-a-time-period-for-your-historical-novel-by-adrian-goldsworthy.
Librarians can provide a huge resource for aspiring writers. They can discuss what’s popular in your local area, your region, and nationwide. They can also talk about the holes in the market; after all, they get asked by patrons on a regular basis for recommendations for certain types of books. Librarians can also recommend really great books for you to read – those that are like the one you’re writing or that are demonstrative of what’s out there in the market. *** New York Times bestselling novelist Laurie Faria Stolarz at http://writingteennovels.com/2013/02/02/5-things-writers-of-teen-novels-should-know-by-laurie-faria-stolarz
When I was an aspiring novelist I went to listen to a talk by an author of eighteen (wow!) novels. He was giving advice on how to write a novel and one of the first things he said was, “Don’t write in first person. It’s too difficult.” Gulp. I’d already begun a novel, had about four chapters finished, in fact, and the way I heard the story in my head was clearly in first person. I didn’t find it difficult. Hmmm. Lesson learned: What doesn’t work for another author may work for you. Each writer has different strengths; some are great at characterization, some can keep their stories going at breakneck speed, some use the language beautifully. Do what’s right for you. For me, I like first person and I think it's particularly good for teen novels. *** US author of six teen historical novels, Diane Lee Wilson, at http://writingteennovels.com/2013/01/30/writing-narrative-point-of-view-in-teen-novels-by-diane-lee-wilson.
Readers tell me that I have an unusual approach to historical fiction. My view about historical detail is this: if I was writing contemporary fiction, I’d only put in as much contemporary detail as the book needed. I wouldn’t overload it with every detail of a character’s clothing or hair style or car. I’d use just enough to paint the picture I wanted. So why should historical fiction be any different? My characters are just people, like you and me. They have the same hopes and dreams and ambitions, so why overload my writing with details of embroidered sleeves and cloaks and jewellery? I want you to know how my characters reacted to dangerous situations, not what they were wearing when they did it - unless it’s important for some reason. *** UK historical teen novelist, and children's fiction author, Pauline Francis at http://writingteennovels.com/2013/01/29/historical-teen-novels-fact-fiction-and-friction-by-pauline-francis
Data confirms that people read fiction primarily for entertainment and for an escape, but they read historical fiction also to learn about history: their own country’s history or the history of some specific place. So in a real sense the author of historical fiction becomes a teacher of history - the “fiction” part notwithstanding - and as a teacher, the author must endeavor to be as accurate as possible about the historical era he or she is writing about, as well as the definitions and terms associated with that era. *** US author of four naval novels set in the 19th century, William C Hammond, at http://writinghistoricalnovels.com/2013/01/28/researching-for-historical-novels-by-william-c-hammond-guest-article