Many people find the idea  of starting to write a book frightening.  I’ve heard it described as putting out to sea in a row boat, hoping you’ll eventually reach land, but aware of the dangers of storms and disasters on the journey.

But if I had to make a comparison, it would be to that of an artist standing in front of a huge, blank canvas.  He has a palette of wonderful colors that he can combine to make new, exciting shades. He can paint with dashing, bold  swathes or delicate strokes. As he looks at the canvas, his mind is filled with exciting possibilities.

So it is with starting a book, particularly a novel.  You are the only person who can write the book inside you, because even if it’s fiction, it is still made out of your beliefs, your prejudices, the jokes you laughed at, the songs you sang.  You can create characters from the essence of people you loved admired or lost, but still yearn for.

However, to go the distance , you must be compulsive. There is no guarantee it will ever be published.  The New York Times Book Review estimates that first novels have a one in ten chance. It’s a highly competitive field, but you may just be the one.


It differs from writing a short story, which usually focuses on one incident and its ramifications. A novel, with its 60,000 plus word length, you have the scope for a complex plot. You can span decades, or cover just 18 days . My novel “The Pomegranate Pendant” which became a movie “The Golden Pomegranate”, covered almost a century in Jerusalem. Another of my novels “Esther”. covered 40 years.

You decide what to reveal about characters in a particular place at a certain time. You can put any words or philosophy you wish into their mouths, any thoughts into their minds.

Aim for a minimum output of three pages a day – anyone can do that. With that quota, in just 90 days, you will have the first draft of an average size book.

Don’t wait for inspiration – that’s only 10% – the rest is perspiration. Writing is the best therapy. Use it to dissipate anger, to celebrate life, to express joy. Put conflict in your novel to keep the pages turning.

When finished, try to get a good agent. Even without one, don’t despair. Write a very creative book proposal – a one-page synopsis, a 1-page letter about yourself, and 2 chapters, and send it to the publisher of your choice.  If interested, he will ask to see more. All writers have rejections – just keep on submitting until someone likes it.

When it’s published, the thrill is like giving birth. You have created this miracle, and readers can share your eyes. And the long, lonely effort is rewarded.

Thomas Wolfe wrote: “If a man has a talent, and cannot use it, he has failed. f he only uses half of it, he has failed.  If he learns somehow to use the whole of it, has has succeeded and won a satisfaction and a triumph few men ever know.”

Happy writing. I am always pleased to hear your comments, and to help you with any writing problems. My latest novel “Searching for Sarah” is available from me at discount – e-mail: dwaysman@gmail.com




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