From Idea to Novel

JACKIE LEA SOMMERS

Lighting a candleHow does an idea become a novel?

First, you throw away the match. Then you hold the idea in your hands like a flickering flame. You protect it and you breathe life into it: research, conversations, prayer.

You put flesh on it. That is, you create characters. You make them look like real people, broken and complicated, and you make them want things.

Then you look around and see where this idea is happening.  In space? In post-apocalyptic London? In a dollhouse? You open your fist and let your idea and your characters start to run around in this new terrarium. With any luck, they will make very bad decisions.

Then you write about it. Pen and paper, laptop, 1921 Woodstock typewriter, whatever you’ve got. Start putting the words down. They’ll be bad at first, but you’ll fix them later.

After 20 drafts or maybe 220, you take off your beret and…

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