Novel Tips from Hemmingway

Just for the fun of it, I searched “how to write a novel” the other day just to see what sage advice people offer in the craft of novel writing.

I enjoyed reading through the varied answers from experts on the subject. Some I whole-heartedly agreed with and others I completely disagreed.

The best advice, perhaps, was a writer who said not to listen to anyone else’s advice – not even mine. I loved that one. I tend to be a lone spirit (for good or ill) wanting to do things my own way.

The worst advice came from someone who said to never write in public. Well, that’s silly. I love writing in public and have my most prolific writing sessions when I’m out and about at a cafe, or lounging on a chair with the sound of crashing waves behind me. Obviously, this person, whoever he was, did’t live on a tropical island paradise like I do.

Two tips from Hemmingway, however stood out to me. I suppose because he’s always been my favorite writer. I love his simplicity and directness. He’s elegant with less, so I was eager to hear what he had to say. I didn’t agree with everything, but here’s two which I thought were helpful.

1. Always read the entire manuscript before you start writing again. When the manuscript becomes too long to practically do so, then, at minimum, read the last 2-3 chapters before starting again.

This is a great way to build continuity into your project, and I must admit, I’m not good at following his advice. I usually just read the last paragraph and charge into writing again. But, that’s probably why I have a TON of rewrites and revisions when I start going back through it the second, third, and fourth times. Note to self: read it more often!

2. Always stop writing for a day when you know what will happen next.

This is great advice which I almost always follow. You don’t want to come back to a project without knowing what happens next. If you aren’t sure, then work it out in your writing session so you know where to start the next day.  The point is, you don’t want to have an unproductive writing session where you get nothing done.

So there you have it. Two solid pieces of advice from one of modern novel’s great writers.

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