Write well. Write often. Edit wisely.
If you’ve spent any time working on a novel, you may be hot under the collar just reading the title of this post.
Or, you may have been around long enough to have heard the same sentiment expressed by dozens of friends and acquaintances, and now merely laugh off such assertions.
But is it true? Can anyone write a book?
While I’d never discourage anyone from trying—and I believe many are capable of putting a story on paper—I will admit that if we’re considering quality, then no, not everyone can write a novel.
Ask anyone who’s crafted a piece of long fiction how easy they found it. Chances are, easy doesn’t figure in their responses.
There’s more to writing a story than telling a story. Writing involves choosing words to create tension and stir emotion. There’s the effort of building into climaxes and slowing the pace to lulls. There’s action and dialogue and description. There are character arcs, story arcs, themes, and plot threads.
There are choices about the number of characters necessary to tell the story with depth yet without confusion. There’s the point-of-view question—who gets to tell this story? What would the story be like told from a different POV? Would it be stronger, more entertaining? More accepted by the reading public?
There are choices to be made at every level, for every story element, on every page.
The writer must consider goals and conflicts and word choices and sentence construction and rhythms and grammar and plot and…
They’re seemingly endless, the choices and elements that go into crafting a novel. But in truth, this becomes simply one more decision—deciding when the story is done, written to the best of the writer’s ability. In order to be published, the writing and decision-making cannot be endless. There must be a stopping point.
Doesn’t look too easy, this book writing business. Does it?
So… can anyone write a novel?
Everyone can try.
Not all will succeed.