Writers want to learn how to write a good novel but perhaps they should focus on what makes up a good read. It’s a subtle shift in perception–a change in point of view–but one that offers some insight into the various techniques needed to craft an artful work of fiction.
A good read for me is one where the author raises questions and engages me in conversation. This stimulation of a reader’s thoughts is considered by Jane Smiley in 13 Ways to Look at a Novel as she discusses the necessity for technical innovation. Simply put, a novel should cause the reader to take a new look at his own ideas and perceptions.
“Great seminal novelists may or may not be more rawly original than their contemporaries; what they do is manage to wed originality of technique with depth of insight or breadth of knowledge or charm or some other quality that demonstrates the value of that technical innovation and makes it memorable to future novelists.” –Jane Smiley, 13 Ways to Look at a Novel
But where does a novelist go to hone his technique? Essentially within. For Smiley, an author’s technique not only grows out of his temperment, his intentions, and his ideas, but it also grows out of his circumstances.
What does your temperment, your intentions, your ideas, even your circumstances add to the mix when you write?
How does this play out in your novel?