Mr. Williams writes a novel


A few years ago, while up in the Berkshires, Partner and I went to Mass MOCA, a huge spectacular modern-art museum hidden in the hills of western Massachusetts. I was browsing the gift shop, and I came across a book called “No Plot? No Problem!



I skimmed the blurbs and the first few pages, and I bought it on the spot.



You see, there’s this group of people – determined to be writers, as aren’t we all? – who resolve to write a novel in a single month (usually November).



The book contains detailed instructions and a lot of tips, some of which are actually valuable. Here’s the most important: Just write! Stop worrying about what you’re writing and just write!



The idea was irresistible. Within days – while still on the vacation, in fact – I went out and bought a nice fresh clean notebook, and began writing.



The first novel (“novel,” in terms of this program, is a fictional narrative of at least 50,000 words) took me a little more than two months; the second took a little less.



It’s great fun. More than that, it’s very fulfilling, and it tells you a lot about yourself.



Haven’t we all promised ourselves that We Will Write A Novel Someday? Well, now I’ve written a couple. The apartment is fairly littered with them now. (I think, counting a couple of abortive things I spawned in my college days, my total is up to four. And I’m only fifty-four years old! I have lots more time!) And I will tell you, if you’ve never done it: it’s a wonderful feeling.



Now: go back and read what you’ve written.



Surprisingly, for me, this was not completely painful. Sections of them are actually bearable, and sometimes funny and / or interesting. I’m not bad with dialogue. I’m good with brief asides, and small glimpses of backstories.




However: I can’t structure a plot. I can’t make things happen. I know what I want the ending to be: generally I want everything to be okay, and everyone to be happy. But once you’ve thrown everybody in the story off-balance – what do you do?



So Speed Novel #1 has two huge craters in it: the main character’s backstory, which I was never tough enough to elaborate completely, and the actual conclusion, which required something to happen – and I couldn’t quite figure out what.



Speed Novel #2 – which I actually wrote almost by accident – is much more coherent. But it has a ridiculous premise.



Those are pretty serious flaws.






Maybe by the time I’m seventy, I’ll have written something worth reading . . .



About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

One Response to Mr. Williams writes a novel

  1. I tried this too… and still have to edit and edit and rewrite and delete and write more.

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