More novel writing stuff

by Adam Reger

As mentioned previously, Cathy Day had some interesting and useful thoughts on novel writing versus short story writing in an essay at The Millions. Over at her blog, Cathy posts an “outtake” from that essay that concerns making the jump from writing stories to writing a novel. I don’t have anything considered to say about it, other than 1) to be excited to see someone linking to Nidus, the University of Pittsburgh’s defunct-and-all-but-forgotten online literary magazine (for which I was once a lowly fiction reader, and which is a kind of predecessor to Hot Metal Bridge); and 2) to be slightly amused at all the metaphors building up around the process of writing a novel: to the marathon running one, Cathy adds Dan Chaon’s architecture/dark field simile, plus E. L. Doctorow’s night driving comparison. I feel like a person can get lost within the walls of all these competing metaphors. Not that you’d ever lose sight of the fact, but as someone thinking a lot about the process of writing a novel, it’s good to remember that what writing a novel is like, exactly, is crafting a well-paced, dramatically satisfying long-form story that includes fully fleshed-out characters who change over the novel’s course, theme, conflict, and emotional resonance, all rendered in aesthetically pleasing prose.