I’ve mentioned before that I’m starting a residency for an MFA program in about a month. The end goal of this program isto have a (potentially) salable novel. Key word, that. Novel. When I completed my MA, that was my original thought and plan, to have a novel for my thesis. I was advised against it because (to paraphrase), “If there’ are problems with the manuscript, it could impact the overall decision. With a collection of stories, if there’s a problem with an issue in a story, it can easily be offset based on the overall strength of the collection.” In other words, clunky elements from a story can be overlooked as an anomaly in a collection, but could sink a novel.
I accepted it, which wasn’t a bad thing. At the time, trying to get a novel out of me would have probably meant not graduating when I did.
But novels are still one of the end goals for me. We learn by writing them, but it helps to have someone who’s gone down the path before that can offer advice and (hopefully) help us work through or see bigger pictures than what we may be getting while working in the trenches. The fact that I want to write “genre” stuff didn’t really help my cause… I’ve mentioned before that some of my instructors could help with some of the mechanical issues, but just didn’t know how to handle some of the bigger stories I was starting to scratch out.
So, for some other folks that may stumble across this entry interested in eaking out a novel (or more) and are just getting started, here’s a Noveling 101 post from the Magical Words site, written by Kalayna Price (with four novels out and a fifth soon to be released, she’s got a pretty good handle on what it means to get a novel done).
Technically, the concepts she’s listing aren’t explicitly “novel-only” – they can be found in any story if you know what to look for, but she presents a good overview, with notes that she will plan on expounding on some of the items in the future.