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Anyone Can Write a Book

on June 7th, 2010 by Fiction Editor Beth Hill and last modified on November 8, 2010

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.

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Tags: ,     Posted in: A Writer's Life, Beginning Writers

4 Responses to “Anyone Can Write a Book”

  1. And this would be exactly why my first couple novels were practice (and suck eggs). I didn’t know anything about craft. I just wanted to write. So I did. Studying an actual book on how to write fiction? I didn’t know they existed back when I first started. Take a class before getting started? That would have boggled my mind. I just used my favorite authors as models and tried the monkey see/monkey do method of learning. A very slow process, but loads of fun! And who inspired me to try to write my first novel? Nora Roberts. Back when she was writing for Silhouette and hadn’t made a HUGE name for herself. I know talent when I see it. My attempts to copy that talent… pathetic. I’ve found my own voice now. That took a long time to develop.

    I suppose you can learn as much about writing as you can before you start. That’s sound reasoning. Or you could jump in with both feet (which will get burned repeatedly) and learn in the fiery trenches. I chose the second route. Probably not the quickest or safest way to learn, but definitely interesting. :-)

  2. Beth says:

    Interesting and exhilarating and wild, Olivia. I think I best like a mix—know something and jump right in to learn the rest along the way.

    Voice is so important. Once we relax into it, our fiction takes on that added oomph. And no one else will sound like us. I love the variety of voices and style and stories.

  3. Hello!
    I am burning inside and want to put the issue in writing. due to the frequent life and experiences i passed through and still facing more, so my question is.
    can I write a book on the experiences I faced for 8 years?
    but still have problems with my English.

  4. Why not try? If not for others, you could always write for yourself, for your family. If English isn’t your first language, you could write in your first language and have it translated to English if that’s something you want to do.

    If you’ve got a story to tell, tell it.

    Good luck with the writing.

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