Sunday, September 8, 2013
Writing Spaces: The Novel
In the lecture, we talked about some of the qualities of a novel. It's a form of long prose fiction which is capable of exploring every type of plot, in many different styles and genres. It has the capacity to cover every imaginable subject matter from all points of view. This writing space appeared with the print revolution and has developed since then into the most diverse and commercially used forms of literature. Today, a novel has the freedom to explore multiple conflicts and complex issues and themes in depth, which is something that cannot be done as successfully within the constrains of shorter prose.
The novel that we studied for this particular part of the unit was The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. I haven't finished it yet, but none of my assignments are going to be based on it so that's okay. I'm determined to finish it though, as I firmly believe that it is one of the best books I have ever read. I'm only a quarter of the way through and so I won't say it's because of the plot or the characters, though so far I love them too. What I love most about this book is Roy's ability to surprise me over and over again on every page by the way she phrases things. There are so many moments, moments I wouldn't have even considered, that could have been written in cliches, but the descriptions in this book are so incredibly unique that it makes me want to keep reading and never stop. I can't wait to finish reading it.
Writing a good novel takes a lot of hard work. There's finding and developing a substantial idea for the novel, and then there's putting in the hard yards to writing out that first draft. Then there's looking over your first draft, seeing it riddled with cliches and unnecessary dialogue, among other things, and having to redraft it. And redraft it again. And again. Until you are satisfied that it is good enough to start showing people. I mean people who matter, like agents. Especially agents. If you're lucky enough to get an agent, then there's all of the redrafting and editing they'll make you do, and all the editing and redrafting you'll have to do to please the publisher if you make it that far.
Basically, editing and redrafting is a lot harder and more time consuming when you've got a chapter length novel that's tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of words long, than when you're doing the same thing for a short story. Novels require a long-term commitment. Maybe this is a big part of why some people consider short stories the inferior 'easy' way into publishing. (I am not one of these people. I love a good short story as much as I love novels. This is just food for thought and whatnot, so no hating.)
What are some of the best novels you have ever read and why?