Saturday, April 12, 2008

Chris Well (Advice for Novelists, Part 39)

Today lend you ear to the advice of crime/mystery novelist Chris Well and his response to the question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

Good fiction is not a product of writing -- it is a product of rewriting. Write your first draft in secret, set it aside, and come back later with fresh eyes. Go through and cut what isn't supposed to be there, add what you thought was already in there, and repair all the wonky transitions that made so much sense when you wrote it. Rinse. Repeat.

(Rule of thumb: If you have a target word count, make sure your first draft is a good ten- or twenty-percent above that count; as you go through and cut unnecessary words, your manuscript will shrink.)

--Chris Well, author of the novels Forgiving Solomon Long, Deliver Us From Evelyn & Tribulation House. Visit him online at his website here and his informative blog here.


Mary Connealy said...

Part 39? Have I missed something?

Good advice, Chris.

I like to finish a book then set it aside, often for weeks.

By then I've forgotten what I MEANT to say and I can read what I REALLY said. Often there are sentences that make absolutely NO SENSE to me.

michael snyder said...

That's good stuff, Chris. I agree.

(Digging that beard too.)


NancyMehl said...

Great post, Chris! I always enjoy your snippets of wisdom.

C.J. Darlington said...

Mary -- LOL. Yep. We have 38 previous entries in this series. Check 'em all out here. Some great stuff from the likes of Jerry Jenkins, Allen Arnold, Sue Brower, Nick Harrison, James Scott Bell, and of course, Chris Well!!

Kevin Lucia said...

Honestly, for me the first draft is always this weird mix of ambivalent anticipation - I don't really like what I'm writing until about the fourth or fifth draft. That's when the true story starts to emerge; that's when it gets fun