What’s It Like to Write a Novel?

ArtStation - Chess with ghosts

So what’s it like to write a novel?

I had a new insight into this, yesterday. For me, writing a novel is like playing chess against an invisible opponent about whom you know nothing at all–nothing but the moves of his chessmen on the board.

I used to like to dope everything out in notebooks before I wrote a word. Four of those books (horror novels) got published. Forty didn’t. So now what I do is just ask God to give me the story and to guide me in telling it. Mostly I just pick up my pen and get to work. Let the invisible opponent surprise me! Most of those surprises turn out to be things I can use. Had one just the other day that really got me grinning.

I did have to write a lot of thankless unpublished novels before I ever sold anything. At the time I thought it wasn’t fair. But maybe those books were a gate I had to go through before I could get any farther down the road–tollbooths, as it were, along the highway. (Ooh, that’s corny!)

The lesson I’ve been taught is to welcome the surprises… and build on them.

I wonder if that applies to real life.

2 comments on “What’s It Like to Write a Novel?

  1. I love your chess analogy! It seems very apt. I tend to outline and build up the world and some character backstory first, but I don’t always stick to the plan. Sometimes the characters lead me on the road less traveled by. And that keeps things interesting. I pray for God to guide me and write for His glory, and He’s continued to bless me. My debut novel comes out September 10th. I’m also looking forward to the next Bell Mountain book!

    1. In production now is “Behold!”, to be followed by “The Ocean of Time” (which I think might be my best book so far). And after that, the book I’m writing now, “Ozias, Prince in Peril.”
      As I worked on Friday, a new character stepped onto the stage and stole the scene. I don’t know where he came from, but suddenly he’s here to stay–an eccentric knight, a little mad, a loner in the first who is devoted to his new king.

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