follow a rookie writing his first novel


This week the muse just wouldn’t appear; I sat at our usual meeting place (my PC) and she just stood me up – can you believe it, fickle bunch these muses. However, I didn’t just go home with my tail between my legs (technically, I was already at home, and I don’t actually have a tail, but you get the drift). No, instead, I just toughed it out. Wrenching out a couple of thousand words. One at a time. The hard way.

Now I know that in the cold light of a new day, and hopefully with a muse that doesn’t have a blag on, these words will turn out to be pure unadulterated c**p, and that no amount of polishing will improve them to the point of useability – actually that reminds me of an old boss I used to have that called that process turd polishing; he would say you could polish and buff it up as much as you want but all you get in the end is a shiny turd! Anyway, I digress… the point is that sometimes you just have to work like this, work through the idea desert to the oasis of literary gold.

The cold light of day arrived, and rather than condemning this weeks efforts, the muse (duly present and unapologetic as ever) posed an altogether different question, one slightly more disturbing than usual. That is, what proportion of a novel should be dialogue, action, description, scene-setting, etc. I didn’t know. I looked in my ever-expanding library of ‘how to’ books on writing and they didn’t really help either. I wonder, is there a magic formula? Does it depend on genre? Or am I worrying unduly? Thinking about what I have written so far, there is a lot of dialogue and not nearly as much action (although I still have the main action scenes to write). Have you ever heard of a ‘nirvanic’ ratio – if so, do tell…


Single Post Navigation

4 thoughts on “Proportions

  1. I discovered long ago that I’m a CNF writer, poet and struggling script writer because I can’t write narrative. Perhaps I should just say that “Brevity” is my middle name and that’s why I write more poetry than anything else. Glad I stumbled upon your site. Check out my friend Ellison James and see how that author stumbled upon becoming an accomplished writer. Regards, Sandra

  2. A very good question and one to which I have no ready reply.
    But –
    flick through the pages of your favourite book of your chosen genre and you will get some idea.
    The white spaces show you how much dialogue/short paragraphs have been written and you can even work this out exactly if you want to.
    Count actual amount of words on a page (yes, right through, laboriously.
    Then count words across the top and lines down and multiply.
    Ratio of one to the other will give you the percentage for that page.
    Of course, this is just one page, it will differ throughout the book and most books don’t work on a strict ratio anyway, and in the end who cares?
    Just get it written.
    Your first draft is you – you and your book. Drivel and all.
    Shut the door, leave your inner critic to shut up and go to sleep, and write.
    Ask all the questions when you have a complete draft to ask.
    Then it might even tell you.
    Good luck with the book.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: