Students Say What? · What I Have Learned About Being a Novelist

What I have learned about being a novelist – 1

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DSC01586A crazed and crazy time, the ending weeks of school. My eye tic returns, I disappear from the Internet, and when not working I gaze out the window at clouds and birds. Ha, would I pass a mental wellness exam? (Don’t answer that!)

Writing? I’m ready to kick that to the curb. I’d happily fade into being someone who, once upon a time, wrote an entertaining series of novels.

But school’s end also brings the What I Have Learned About Being a Novelist assignment. It isn’t formal, just ten minutes of in-class writing on the topic. And when I read these wise comments from my student writers, I’m ready for another round of chasing the writerly dream.

Here’s what Isaac, a senior, had to say:Isaac-2014

Well, one thing I learned about ‘noveling’ is what I’m doing right now—free writing. It’s the most necessary part of writing a story; the part where thoughts flow freely, spelling doesn’t matter, and you find out things about yourself, your story, and your characters that you never knew before.

Another leap I made in writing this year was discovering that every author ever was right—short sentences and limited adverbs. Things click. Characters become people. Words become emotions. Setting becomes home. Readers get a better picture by reading the smallest amount of well-placed words.

Finally, I relearned the joy of creation. I rediscovered how it feels to play god. The feeling of getting to know your characters, and how they stick with you all day—it’s one of the rewards I enjoy most. And to rediscover this (almost) every time I sit down to write, no matter how hard, makes it worth it.

Isaac is headed for George Fox University next year, but his long-term goal is to become a professional author.

13 thoughts on “What I have learned about being a novelist – 1

    1. Isaac has always had the motivation and desire to write. This year he broke through the glass ceiling of finding one’s writing voice. So exciting for him—and for his classmates—to see.

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    1. I think so, Denise. Isaac is an athlete, a musician, and a 4-point student. In other words, he knows how to work. That’s the key to the writing life.

      *heavy sigh* I preach to myself.

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    1. Hi, Anne. Yes, the sky’s the limit for a talented writer who is not afraid of the hard work. Isaac has wanted to be a writer since discovering the wonder of YA novels in middle school.

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  1. Good luck to Isaac and your other students, Laura. The best way to improve your writing is to write – even if it’s not wonderful. We can always go back and rework it. In fact, I’m rewriting the Guardian Trilogy this summer, taking out all Austen elements and changing things here and there. I like to think I’m a better writer than I was four years ago, and the story deserves the opportunity to shine.

    Your students seem to be inspiring you, Laura. I like that.

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    1. For me, writing involves emotional energy … and right now I’m stretched thin and threadbare! But summer’s coming, oh yes. June 5th is when I’ll anchor writer’s hat to my head … for thirteen summer weeks.

      I like your idea for Guardian, Robin. It takes guts to revisit one’s early writing. I gave up trying to revise my portion of Love Suffers Long and is Kind. Maybe one day …

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      1. I’ve already redone the covers, Laura. The time is right for paranormal, YA romance, and this story fits the bill. The older Austen-inspired version will still be out there, I presume, for those who’d rather read that. However, I’m reading “angel” stories now, and I’m fairly certain that mine is as good as or better than most of what’s out there. It will still be Christian, but not as “in your face.” All of these books have a theology system. My theology system will remain what it was. Weirdly enough, I expect people to read it in the same context they read Mortal Instruments or Angel Fall – as a story.

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        1. My covers are black, of course, with a different set of wings for each volume. Shutterstock is overflowing with wings. Four years ago, they didn’t have any, but with the market shifting to the supernatural, there was such an abundance that I had a hard time choosing.

          I’m changing a few things, too. I may also call this “The Xander Chronicles” with a warning that it is a significantly changed version of “The Guardian Trilogy.”

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