The Key Ingredient of a Novel . . .

Publish date:

As I wrote on the WD Forum: Samwise Gamgee or Middle Earth? The simple elegance of Hemingway’s prose or Santiago’s quest for his marlin? Dracula, Transylvania or the book's letter/diary format?

I’m whipping up the March/April InkWell section of Writer’s Digest magazine right now, and one of the features we run every issue is the Superlatives poll—basically, WD readers voting on a question about something in the writing world.

This issue’s question: In your opinion, if you were forced to pick one, what’s the best ingredient of a solid novel: The plot/premise; the style; the characters or the setting?

Drop by the WD Forum and vote! (There’s no catch, except you have to sign up for the free forum to weigh in.) We print the results every issue, and usually run them alongside one writer’s comments to shed some light on the answers.

Also, if you’re going to be in Cincinnati tonight, stop by the Blue Wisp Jazz Club downtown to see three journalists attempting to make music that doesn’t sound like, um, err, music being played by journalists who have practiced once. The Society of Professional Journalists in Cincinnati is having a battle of the journalist bands, and WD book author/rocker Chuck Sambuchino recruited me for the gig.

Pray for rock n’ roll! (And my guitar, which is currently shivering in fright in the corner of my office, having not performed on stage in years.)


WRITING PROMPT:Taming the Title
Feel free to take the following prompt home or post your response (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below. By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our occasional around-the-office swag drawings.

Write a vignette from one of these titles:
Apocalypse Forgotten
The Dragon is Not Real.
The Sky Is Lying