Photo by SK Camille. Book copyright 1983 by the Estate of John Gardner.

Advice for Writers: 10 Takeaways from John Gardner’s “On Becoming a Novelist”

Photo by SK Camille. Book copyright 1983 by the Estate of John Gardner.

Takeaway 1

A novelist needs verbal sensitivity, an accurate “eye,” certain kinds of intelligence, and compulsiveness (plus, ideally, stubbornness, common sense, and a fascination for the “materials” of fiction).

Takeaway 2

A writer who doesn’t already have these qualities can develop them, for the most part.

Takeaway 3

Becoming a novelist, versus other professions or other kinds of writing, presents special difficulties.

Takeaway 4

Good fiction creates a “continuous dream” (called the fictive dream), and its qualities include storytelling, generosity, significance, elegance, and strangeness.

Takeaway 5

Formal education can help the novelist but isn’t indispensable.

Takeaway 6

Beginning novelists need social and psychological support.

Takeaway 7

For the beginning novelist, the main value of publication is that it gives confidence.

Takeaway 8

Novelists should face the fact that they will probably never earn a living from their writing.

Takeaway 9

The basic process of writing is to enter a kind of trance, where you visualize the events of the story and then write them down.

Takeaway 10

“Have faith.”

I write about change, growth, authenticity, and faith, with warmth and optimism. She/hers. http://skcamille.space

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