Here are two ways to write a novel.
As you may imagine, I have some friends who are writers. And they don’t make enough money to quit their day jobs, but few writers do. One friend writes successful westerns and has at least twelve in print. His day job is acquiring land for an Arizona utility company, but this has been an asset to him as he can write great western scenes describing the land the cowboy is dealing with or riding through.
The other, has had many TV scripts published, and his day job is teaching English at an historical black university. And when I worked as a marketing director at a publishing house, I always slipped him some writing jobs on the side, as he had some outrageous alimony to pay and I could identify with that.
To put it nicely, the professor is a confirmed alcoholic. . In fact his favorite quote is ” A man must believe in something; I believe I will have another drink” and he has at least three drinks at every lunch. He is, as many writers are, slightly nuts. Or as my agent says, “Just one normal writer God, just one normal writer God, is that too much to ask?”
But my friend has written for many television shows.
His approach is simple. First he develops the characters and knows them inside and out, puts down all their traits on a legal pad and knows how each character will react in any given situation.
And then, I swear, this is his approach. He knows each character so well that he sits down at his computer and they start talking to him and the story writes itself.
Hey – I didn’t say he was sane, but the method works for him.
I understand that approach as I was a corporate speechwriter for 12 years and that job depends on how well you wrote that last speech. You want pressure? Send that speech upstairs and if it is bad, the CEO is hiring a new writer.
But I never outlined. I would interview the CEO or politician, have a few bourbons and it was easy. You sat down to write and if you did your research, you could actually hear the CEO’s voice dictating the speech to you.
My other friend, the utility worker, has an even simpler approach. He believes that each character has a short story. Know each character and their short story. Then weave the short stories together and you have your next novel.
And then again, another friend has the shoe box theory – but hey, we can discuss that another time.