Write a Story, Not a Novel. Or, Write a Novel.

The new year is full of well intentioned, not-really-intended, and downright jokey resolutions. Most of them have something to do with health (I will get fit!), a hobby (I will take up climbing!) or an achievement (I will climb EVEREST!). They're usually pretty innocent and there's no real bind to actually follow through with them. They're easily forgotten, too.

Wrong type of Magnum, usually.
I'm sure the resolution to write a novel is nothing new. For both authors and those just starting out alike, it's easy - and great - to get swept up in the new year / new you mentality and announce - even believe - that you're going to write that magnum opus.

But maybe that misses the point.

A novel - 40,000 words for kids, 90,000 for the grown ups among us - is just one form of story. Literary, genre, trendy stream of consciousness po-mo... beyond that, a novel is a block of prose with a moving plot, dialogue, and characters who find resolution.

A story is different, though. You can tell a story in a novel, of course. But you can also tell a story in, well, a short story. Clue's in the name. Or in flash fiction. Or blog posts. Or Twitter. Or poetry. Or even a poetry slam, though you've probably got more problems that need dealing with if you're going to poetry slams.

Music - songs - can tell stories. Even pictures. Video, of course. Youtube has some fantastic narratives on it.

My point is that if you want to do something great in 2013, write a story - but make sure that's what you're doing. 80,000 words for the sake of 80,000 words, but with no heart or love, is just a textbook in time wasting. A poem of 100 written with care and craft and courage can change the world. Sometimes it's why you write, and not what, that makes writing art.

NaNoWriMo will, sadly, make you go mad.
If you're writer, it's fine. No one will notice.
If you need inspiration or prodding, how about this: Sign up for a blog chain - fiction, non-fiction, it doesn't matter. Or you can enter competitions; New Pages has great calls for submissions listings and it can be a solid way to build an audience. Hey, why not start a blog? Do prep - admittedly, a lot of it - for NaNoWriMo.

Just write, write, write. Tell, tell, tell a story. Anyone can. It might be pants, but it'll get better. It might be genius, and then you'll really have something.

So go on. Write a story. Write one and remember that beyond all the clever style things, beyond agents and trends and literary criticism and technique and format is just you, a reader, and a tale that's worth the telling.


  1. Replies
    1. Too many goatees, not enough beer.

      Don't worry, a tongue-in-cheek prod at an easy target. If poetry slams work for you, then long live them, says I.