Advice For Novelists: Via F. Scott Fitzgerald

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November 12, 2012 by chriszumtobel

Writing is a lot of work… But it just takes writing and writing and writing… And then you’re finished!

Oh wait… Then there is re-writing.  But it just takes rewriting and rewriting and rewriting. And then reading and rereading and rereading and editing and rewriting and rereading and more editing and more rewriting and more rereading, a few last changes, and then maybe, only maybe, you might be finished.  You might have a halfway decent novel.

Or maybe, as is the case for Joseph Heller, that was only enough to get a basic idea for your novel, to find out the story you really want to write.  And now that you know, it’s time to throw it all away and start over.  That’s what he would do, and judging by Catch 22, I’d say it worked pretty well for him. Wait let me check… 10 million copies sold, title is now a commonly used figure of speech, ranked by Modern Library as the 7th best book in the English Language of the 20th century… yea, I’d say that worked alright for him.

It’s easy to reread your work and think of it as garbage, not worth an edit, to just trash it.  But it’s reassuring to know that people like Fitzgerald and Heller thought the same thing.  They didn’t write The Great Gatsby or Something Happened in one shot, we can’t expect to write our own piece of classic literature without giving it some time and love.

Sometimes it takes a lot of time and love.  And the case of The Last Tycoon, Scott Fitzgerald just didn’t turn out to have enough time and love left in him…

Writing a novel takes time.  And for all you Wrimos out there, that doesn’t mean slow down, by all means, keep writing and keep writing fast.  But when the month is over and you’re finished, be sure to take the time to Rinse and Repeat…


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