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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Jim Butcher's Guide to Constructing a Novel


Unless you've been living under a rock on a distant planet, or you're simply not really a big sci-fi/fantasy fiction fan, chances are you've heard of Jim Butcher. The guy's Dresden books are all over the place at your local Barnes & Nobles or Books-a-million, no doubt.

So, in my casual interwebs surfing in which I occasionally read the blogs of writers (in a non-creepy way...really), I stumbled upon Jim Butcher's livejournal blog in which he essentially lays out his method for constructing a novel from start to finish. Notice I didn't say "writing" a novel, but instead used the term "constructing" because that's exactly what it is.

In a series of articles, Mr. Butcher diagrams and describes his own process for building the novel from the all important story question down to the particular details of each protagonist. It is essentially how he outlines and prepares to tell the story which he intends to tell.

He points out the folly of merely sitting down in front of a computer with no real direction and how it will only lead an aspiring writer down a frustrating road of re-writes and revisions. Only he says it much more succinctly than I because, well, he's freaking Jim Butcher.

Now, I myself have never read any of Mr. Butcher's works so I can't count myself among his fans, however one of my better friends, also an aspiring writer and a damn good one at that, is a huge fan of the man's writing. Bottom line is, this isn't some fluff bullshit piece designed to get you "motivated to crank out that best seller." No, Mr. Butcher tells it to you straight; writing a novel is hard work and is just as much a craft to be practiced and perfected as it is an art form to be appreciated.

In fact, I'm using his method myself in constructing my own novel because, frankly, I'm a disorganized mess. I wish I could keep every detail about my characters and the worlds they inhabit in my head to refer to from memory, but unfortunately my mind these days is filled with the mundane. Anything fantastic or amazing I might think of has to be immediately placed on paper lest it be forgotten forever.

If you're like me, and in need of a little push out the door on getting that novel off the ground, I think you'll find Mr. Butcher's advice quite handy. A practical guide for creating something magical. Thank you, Mr. Butcher.