[SFF Net Member]

Several years ago, I was invited to be on a writing panel at Minicon. In the absence of further questions from the audience, I asked the rest of the panel, "How do you know when you've got a novel?"

I'm still working on the answer to that one -- it's not as simple as it sounds.

When my notes for a story are more than forty pages long, I've usually got a novel...
...but not always.

When I've got too much "stuff" to fit in a short story -- characters, plot lines, ideas to explore...
...but maybe I should be more selective, use only the "stuff" that needs to be there.

Or, as Eleanor Arneson said, when I write 20 pages and I'm just getting started...
...but maybe I didn't start in the right place, maybe I didn't find the real story yet.

I haven't published any fiction or poetry in ages -- my excuse is: I'm learning to write novels, and I'm a slow learner!


We wrote a story -- several in fact; better to say we created a character -- when we were twenty-something. I felt at the time that I couldn't -really- write that character's stories until I was fifty. Being a good friend, my writing partner recently reminded me that I'm almost "the right age" to finish those stories; apparently my friend feels I should have the manuscript done by the time I'm fifty....well, I do work better with a deadline.

My friend-and-writing-partner and I were founding members of a writers' group many years ago, the Southside Writers. The group survived several changes in location, the flux and flow of changes in membership and occasional personality clashes. It is presently surviving without us -- has been doing so, very well, for a few years now. It's nice to know it will (most likely) be there when I get a chance to go back.

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CopyrightCopyright symbol1997-1999 Rob Root
Written contents of this site are copyrighted as of date of original publication 04/20/97; each revision is also copyrighted as of date of publication.