October 5, 2011

Writing the Novel

"If you try to nail anything down, in the novel, either it kills the novel,
or the novel gets up and walks away with the nail."--D.H. Lawrence

I ran across this quote the other day and found it interesting--even intriguing. Since first reading it, I've been thinking about the nail it refers to. Have I been trying to nail something down in the novel I'm working on? Have I been forcing characters to do and/or say something they're not comfortable with? Have I been moving the plot in a direction it simply doesn't want to go? It's true I can't force characters or plot onto a path that suits me if that direction isn't true to the story. It's so easy to forget that when I'm in the midst of writing.

So I'm grateful every time a character steps up to tell me that he or she simply won't do what I want--or when a new character appears from nowhere and pushes me in a different direction. I'll always try to pay attention, for fear the whole thing will get up and walk away with the nail I'm trying to force into place.

I've never been good with a hammer and nail!