Warren Adler

You’re Not Alone: 10 Struggles in Writing a Novel

April 30, 2015
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Guest Column by Warren Adler, Reprinted with Permission

 

May 1, 2015 

 

Like every author on the planet, I’ve spent endless hours mulling over creating titles for my work. One strives, of course, to be both memorable and honestly descriptive of the content. But then, by and large, a great title is an art form unto itself – a great title does not necessarily signify a great book and vice versa. 

1. You find yourself in the throes of a title dilemma

Like every author on the planet, I’ve spent endless hours mulling over creating titles for my work. One strives, of course, to be both memorable and honestly descriptive of the content. But then, by and large, a great title is an art form unto itself – a great title does not necessarily signify a great book and vice versa. 

2. You get 100 pages into a novel and suddenly decide you’re tossing it all 

This may seem insane but I normally know whether or not I’m on to something good only after being 100 pages into a story. I’m sure some of you go much farther.

3. Your friends think you’ve become a recluse because you spend so much time at your writing desk

I am usually very regimented about my writing schedule and typically wake up at about 5AM and start writing until 10AM. There have been times, however, where I’ve spent an entire day in my study working on a novel. Little do they know the kind of dynamic journey writers go on in their work. 

4. Choosing between creativity and money

We don’t live by money alone. For those of us who aspire to the high art of literary writing, similarly to painters, composers, musicians, and others who prize, above all, discovering insight into the human condition, we will always put creation over the clink of coinage.

5. Sometimes you spend a lot more time researching for your story than you do writing  

Actually, this isn’t really a struggle but I’m leaving it in. When I was working on TARGET CHURCHILL, I spent months reading memoirs by Winston Churchill among other historical documents. It was all grist for the novelist’s mill. My research led to new characters and sub-plots. It was all so rich and intriguing that I could have spent a lifetime on the topic.  

6.  You have a lot of trouble trying to decide how your novel will end

Honestly, if I ever knew the ending of a novel in advance, I wouldn’t write it. The way in which I write is to let my characters  come alive in my head and interact with each other, create conflict with each other, and work out their own destinies. I know this sounds out there but writers will know what I’m talking about.

7. There are times when you can’t sleep at night because you’re constantly thinking about what the next page in your story will be 

Sound familiar? There’s nothing wrong with a smidgen of insomnia for the sake of your writing. It’s a kind of rites of passage for the dedicated novelist. I am always writing a story in my head, keeping a log of ideas that pop up. I find that the best thing to do is keep a notepad or journal near you so you can jot thoughts down, otherwise you’ll just end up more frustrated that you can’t get it out of your head and onto paper. 

8. Editors start changing and omitting parts of your story that you think should be left in. 

 One of the reasons I went independent was because I could not stand editors who took it upon themselves to essentially bulldoze entire sections of my work that I’d spent a lot of painstaking time on. I am always weary of this. I would rather make my own mistakes than have someone else make them for me. 

9. You’re CONSTANTLY rewriting!   

Well, I firmly believe that the key to good writing is rewriting. When I write a novel I go back to it every single day and I try to produce at least 5 pages. I’ll write 5 pages one day then go back the next day, start from the beginning and rewrite. I’ve managed 39+ novels so evidently this isn’t such a bad process.

10. You know all too well what it’s like to get lost in your characters, in fact, sometimes your characters  get out of line and start going off on tangents.  

If this doesn’t happen to you at some point then something must be wrong. Naturally, I become heavily invested in the characters I create, what they think, how they act, what they wish for, their passions, their emotional lives, their angst, their sexuality, their inner hungers and desires. They find internal expression in my third person style of writing and It becomes necessary to curb my imagination at times. You’re probably wondering what those tangents sound like (that’s for another article). 

Warren AdlerWarren Adler is an author, playwright, poet, and essayist. With over 40 years of an insider’s view of the exclusive domain of the nation’s political elite, Adler writes with a unique insight and command rendering him an invaluable voice in the evolving American experience, and a trademark in American literature. Adler is best known for his iconic novel turned box-office hit The War of the Roses, starring Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas, and Danny DeVito. Check out Warren Adler’s official website and his entire collection of novels at www.Warrenadler.com.

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