Friday, February 4, 2011

How to Write a Novel

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What a week. Patti (channeling Anne Lamott) dared us to make writing its own reward. Double-dog dared us. And I got thinking – why can’t books sales be the reward? Bad Bonnie. Then Latayne rattled our cage by inspiring our artistic angst to hide out in the cave of nom de plume. Or not. Would writing under another name be its own reward?
I tell you, I’ve been soaking in uncertainty this week. I needed to take one giant step back and examine my motivation for writing novels, and my utter insanity for doing so using my real name. So, in order to ground myself, I’ve worked on a step-by-step list of how to write a novel. Perhaps you might find it useful.

Step 1:
Please choose one of the following options:
a) Give birth multiple times. (You may also choose to give birth to multiples. Triplets work well)
OR
b) Have all of your body hair waxed off in one afternoon. (It is preferable that you have this preformed by a person who does not speak your language) Repeat weekly for one year.
(This step ensures you have vast experience with pain, AND attempting to reason with characters who are indifferent to your needs.)
Step 2:
Commit acts of Random Bizarre Behavior (RBBs) in public places. Record people’s reactions to your behavior in a purple notebook.
Examples of possible RBBs:
- Enter a crowded elevator and begin singing The Battle Hymn of the Republic at the top of your lungs. Be sure to flail your arms around, especially during the chorus. Interrupt yourself often by asking others in the elevator to give you more room.

- Enter a busy shopping mall. Shake hands with everyone you see and thank them for their excellent customer service.
- Approach a female stranger. Address this stranger as “Aunt Bea”. Demand to see pictures of the new baby.
- If you are approached by a police officer: calmly and patiently explain that you voted for ‘the other guy’. If this fails, claim you are Canadian and don’t know better (this only works if you are in the US).
(This step exposes you to the full range of natural, spontaneous human reactions and emotions needed to create believable characters.)
Step 3:
Invent a perpetual motion machine. Give it a catchy name. Then, hide it in a closet for at least one year. After the appropriate amount of time has past, take the machine out of the closet, tinker with it until it moves at double the speed.
(This step ensures you are able to do the impossible – at least twice.)
Step 4:
Knock on a stranger’s door. Tell the stranger you are the love child they gave up for adoption. Mention you are unemployed. Repeat this several times until you are numb to all rejection.
(This step ensures – well, you know what it ensures.)
Step 5:
Take all of these experiences and divide them into chapters. Give it a plot and a catchy name. If possible, include vampires.

It’s possible to be on more than one step at the same time. So, which step are you on? Do share!

17 comments:

Karen Schravemade said...

Step 6: Cause your reader to fall off their chair from laughing too hard, thereby ensuring that they too are suitably empathetic to your characters' pain.

You're hilarious! =)

Laura Marcella said...

I keep going back and forth among Steps 2 and 3. Step 2 is just too much fun!

Haha, funny post. Have a great weekend!

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Oh Oh I'll have all my body hair waxed off for $100 Alex.

Too. Much. Fun.

So needed today. Thanks!
~ Wendy

Ellen Staley said...

Too funny! I love your sense of humor Bonnie. A great way to start the day.

Step 1a I completed years ago, though now I have the fun of dealing with grandchildren, but within the age range of 2 - 4, they often seem to a hear some language other that what I speak!

Sharon K. Souza said...

Hilarious, Bonnie. But painfully accurate!

Ashten said...

Bonnie,

You are so completely hilarious...hahahaha!!! I especially liked the part about adding vampires...what is UP with all the vampire hype??
O goodness...great way to laugh my way into the afternoon...it seems a good survival tip no matter what your profession...cling to the humor and enjoy every moment!

Bonnie Grove said...

Karen: Oh dear. Sorry about the chair thing. But happy to hear you enjoyed my great pearls of wisdom and sage advice.

Laura: Me too! Ahem. This isn't just because I have a secret desire to be a public nuisance. Nuh-uh. not me.

Wendy: Cheers!

Ellen: I will often look at my kids and say, "What? Am I speaking Swahili?" They often respond, "Yes." Sigh.

Sharon: Painfully true.

Ashten: Might as well laugh. Beats the alternative! Love your positive attitude!

Bonnie Grove said...

Okay, but seriously, I don't know why everyone thinks this isn't serious!
This is gold - GOLD I tells ya.

I'll have all the big shot writers asking me for advice. I just KNOW it!

Patti Hill said...

Only if you keep the body wax out of sight! Ha!

Heidi said...

Haha, this post made me laugh so hard. Also, I am Canadian, so that excuse works for me!! :D

I'm currently in the stage of cataloging bizarre reactions, acquainting myself with pain, and attempting to do the impossible. I will expect rejection to follow later.

Marian said...

Thanks for the advice. I must increase my RBB's. My husband is not going to like this.

Bonnie Grove said...

Patti: I went for giving birth multiple times.

Heidi: Woo Hoo! Canadians unite! Oh, we did already. Especially around the southern boarder. Great to hear from you, Heidi!

Marian: You'll fill two purple notebooks with your husband's reactions. Bwahahaha

Steve G said...

Wow. Makes me glad to be a pastor! And while I am a guy and miss some of the nuances, I feel your pain...

Susie M Finkbeiner said...

AWESOME! There's hope for me yet! I have twins!

Bonnie, you should be charging for this gold! For reals!

Bonnie Grove said...

Steve: You feel my pain because I often kick you while I'm writing. Unintentional, of course. Though, I do record you reactions in a purple notebook.

Susie: Twins! Impressive!
Yes! I'll take your gold!! ;)

Susie M Finkbeiner said...

Bonnie, not so impressive! My sister has TRIPLETS!!!!! (it runs in the family)

Bonnie Grove said...

Susie: Zowie. I have twin sisters, and my hubby is a twin. Everyone kept saying, "Watch out!" But I just had one at a time. Mind you, they were each 10 pounds at birth, so. . . I must get some kind of credit there. :)