on writing a novel

It’s easy to write the weird and astonishing elements of a novel. That’s just a question of imagination and getting your fingers to behave on the keyboard.

The difficult part is writing all the elements that ground your world, character, and narrative. This place must feel real. These characters need to not only feel real but also draw an emotional connection from us. The narrative is sort of the framework that all of these work inside. It should fall from your character’s motivations and desires.

These grounding elements are the most important part, but they’re also the least sexy, both as a writer and reader. But without these elements, the astonishing and awe inspiring moments fall flat or miss the reader entirely.

I think that’s been a major aspect of what’s made this novel so challenging. The length, obviously, is a factor, considering I’ve never written anything even close to this size. It’s possible my pacing is all off due to such things. But when you invent a culture and people from the ground up, there’s so much to consider, so much to develop. That’s where the length of the novel comes from, incidentally.

There are passages in this novel that deal with cooking, with musical styles, with styles of combat, with differences in languages and dialects, with creation myths, with morality stories that a culture tells itself about itself, with sexuality, with family norms, with social norms, with philosophy, with art–I go deep and extensively into so many things. It’s possible I’ll be taking big chunks of this out in a future rewrite, but I think these elements are fundamentally important when it comes to understanding this character and this narrative.

It’s also what allows me to write moments that pull the reader to new levels, into different layers of understanding. I can throw in moments that are spectacle, that are meant to inspire awe or fear or rage or sorrow because, hopefully, this world feels so real.

I hope when you read it, if you read it, that you’ll know my main character like you know a close friend. I want you to be there throughout her life, and I want you to care.

That’s the most important aspect of a novel: making you care. And it’s why all these grounding elements matter so much. That’s what makes it difficult.

It’s why I can write 10k words of insane and awesome moments of spectacle in a day, but it may take me several days to write the same amount of words that function to ground the world and propel the characters forward.

Anyrate, just a thought as I’m having a slow day of writing.

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