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Writing a novel is a lot like dating... : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Writing a novel is a lot like dating...

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
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Crono91
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Writing a novel is a lot like dating...

Postby Crono91 » Sat Jan 09, 2016 7:50 pm

So I was talking to a fellow writing friend, who is new to writing a novel, and so far she is doing amazingly. She's unlike most pre-first-novel writers that I've engaged with, and she asked me how. When I thought about it, I realized the first novel is like your first love, in many ways.

There's three things one will find in someone who is dating their first boyfriend/girlfriend and in someone who is working on their first novel: mimicry, denial, and self-defense.

When you write your first book, you've no idea what's going on or how do it. You look toward other books, assessing how they did their plot progression, how long their chapters were, what their characters were like, and how they utilized their plot pieces. Because of this, you believe your novel must fit a similar mold, and it ends up turning out a lot like the book you were basing yours off of. Similar to dating, you look to others, like fellow cohorts who are in a relationship, and even your parents, and you expect your relationship to function the same, and if it doesn't, you become confused and unsure--internal strife ensues.

Then there's denial, a damaging aspect of any writing project or first relationship. No one can possibly convince you that your story is bad, or that your relationship is toxic, especially yourself. You're your own worst critic, but you will find any reason why it's not true, and that your novel is the best out there.

And finally, the worst offender of them all, that clearly separates the beginners from the experienced: self-defense. Almost everyone has been there. You ask your friends for their opinion on your relationship, because you genuinely want it, but then they tell you their opinion, and explosions spur. How dare them say it's toxic--how dare them say that section in your book is boring, or that it is too similar to The Hunger Games! They will defend it until they die, which makes it impossible for any kind of growth.

---

Yet, there is a positive side to the similarities. The unique kind of love that comes with your first book or first love.

While some authors publish their first book, and some lovers marry their first love, most will not. Most will finish their first book, realize it will not publish, and move on to their second book: once they finish that, they become flabbergasted at how much a gap there is in skill between the two. You're finally able to see just how horrible that first book was--you're able to see just how immature that first relationship was--and you're able to accept it. Yet, despite knowing this, the kind of love you have for your first book is pure and innocent. You will always look upon it fondly, with a different kind of love.

And from there, as a seed of growth, you're able to love your new stories with a more mature type of novelty, acceptance, and an open heart to critique!

Don't be ashamed of the mistakes you make from blinding passion--that isn't the moral of the story. Never give up. But edit your mistakes so you can grow as a writer, and a lover.
Be proud of your mistakes when they form from blinding passion. But now edit them.

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DrG2
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Re: Writing a novel is a lot like dating...

Postby DrG2 » Sun Jan 10, 2016 12:22 am

If writing a novel was like dating, I'd have quit writing most of them after the first time.
;)

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Re: Writing a novel is a lot like dating...

Postby James A. Ritchie » Sun Jan 10, 2016 11:25 am

In a way, I guess writing my first novel was like dating. A whirlwind romance that ended just as it should have. I had a lot of fun with her for three weeks, and then kicked her out the door, and told her to write or call when she made some money. She did. I received a call just a few weeks later saying she had a big check for me, so I took her back in,

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onceuponwednesday
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Re: Writing a novel is a lot like dating...

Postby onceuponwednesday » Sun Jan 10, 2016 1:36 pm

The Rule of Three

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Terry T.A. Rodgers
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Re: Writing a novel is a lot like dating...

Postby Terry T.A. Rodgers » Mon Jan 11, 2016 8:54 am


James A. Ritchie
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Re: Writing a novel is a lot like dating...

Postby James A. Ritchie » Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:28 pm


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pls
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Re: Writing a novel is a lot like dating...

Postby pls » Mon Jan 11, 2016 1:07 pm

I had far more rejections from submitted queries than I did from solicited dates. But then I had low expectations …
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Re: Writing a novel is a lot like dating...

Postby James A. Ritchie » Tue Jan 12, 2016 9:31 am


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Rosedarling
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Re: Writing a novel is a lot like dating...

Postby Rosedarling » Sat Jan 16, 2016 7:01 pm

If writing is llike dating then that explains why I've kept so many of those old stories around. You see I've been fortunate to have remained friend with most of my old boyfriends. We still keep in touch and yes, my husband knows it. He also knows he's got me for the reminder of the story.
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