Lizzy Asks: How To Write A Novel?

Lizzy of Lizzy’s Weekly Blogs wrote me an email yesterday asking if I would share some advice on “how to write a short story or a novel.”

Stock Photo.
Stock Photo.

I said I would give it a shot. What are some things I’ve learned in the five years I have been doing this?

As I so far write only novels, here is my brainstorm on that complicated, yet also very simple, question. For starters, I have 10 suggestions (not offered in any particular order):

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The Widower

Yesterday, I was having what I had thought was an innocuous FaceTime with my father. There was our usual current discussion of the weather in his northeast Pennsylvania, and any snow – including what is up at our house in the Catskills. There was also the required exchange about what the new U.S. president is up to. And there was other chitchat.

As I thought we were about to sign off, abruptly he veered without warning into again reviewing my mother’s cancer and death in October 2015. Through hard personal experience, I’ve learned a lot about widowers since then. “The widower” is a particularly difficult area in our culture.

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Royal Albert Hall

We saw a Cirque du Soleil performance yesterday afternoon at the Royal Albert Hall in central London:

[Photo by me, 2017.]
[Photo by me, 2017.]
[Photo by me, 2017.]
[Photo by me, 2017.]

We’ve been there before to concerts, but it dawned on me that I could not recall ever seeing the Albert Memorial (across the street) in daylight. I’d been by it previously only after dark. So outside of the hall, I went tourist and snapped a photo:

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A Chilly English Winter Morning

I was writing yesterday late morning when I noticed no heat was on and the house had started to feel cool. Venturing downstairs from my office, I discovered the boiler was out. Next I saw gas workers outside.

National Grid to the rescue yesterday. [Photo by me, 2016.]
National Grid to the rescue yesterday. [Photo by me, 2016.]

There was a gas problem on the high street and National Grid had turned up with what seemed like a dozen vehicles. They’d had to shut off service to quite a few houses. Water from a burst pipe up the road earlier somehow got into the main gas pipe.

“Uh, not good,” one of the workers told me.

“So this is the water company’s fault,” I laughed.

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First Class Christmas

For Christmas, we flew to Newark yesterday from Heathrow. We decided to make this trip special.

We used Avios (BA air miles) and went first class. I grabbed that photo above in the Concorde lounge “outside” deck at Heathrow. And naturally, as we all do nowadays, I put it on Instagram.

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The Holiday (Film)

What a ludicrous hour to be awake on a Sunday. We’re going to church early. Like many of you, we’ve been spending the weekend preparing for Christmas:

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A Fourth Writing December

Another Monday is upon us. His Oxford term now finished, we had my nephew stay over for a couple of nights. He flies off today to Vienna for a few days to visit friends there.

Aircraft contrails over Hertfordshire, England yesterday. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Aircraft contrails over Hertfordshire, England yesterday. [Photo by me, 2016.]
While he was here in Hertfordshire, of course we fed him:

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A Not So “Ordinary” Girl

A new follower caught my attention the other day. She did so not so much because of her amazing blog. Rather, I was struck by her utter lack of one.

In her WordPress gravatar she calls herself an “ordinary girl” and writes that she’s not social, but uses social sites to explore. She says nothing about her age or where she lives. She also notes she hopes to travel someday, but hasn’t had the chance.

Statue of Liberty and World Trade Center's Twin Towers, from the Liberty Island ferry. [Photo by me, 1991.]
Statue of Liberty and World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, from the Liberty Island ferry. [Photo by me, 1991.]

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A Recollection Of A Christmas Past

We drove down to north London yesterday to visit relatives:

On the A1(M) on Sunday. No, I was NOT driving. [Photo by me, 2016.]
On the A1(M) on Sunday. No, I was NOT driving. [Photo by me, 2016.]

It being yet another Monday, it’s time to get back to work.

I hope you’ll excuse a Christmas recollection, but it’s that time of the year again. You’ll understand why in a moment. Let me explain…

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