We’ve sourced some of the most interesting and thought-provoking Novel Quotes from John Lanchester, Michael Ondaatje, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Camilla Lackberg, Eric Carle. Each of the following quotes is overflowing with creativity, and knowledge.
A novel usually begins, in my experience, with a thought or image that won’t leave me alone.
The first sentence of every novel should be: Trust me, this will take time but there is order here, very faint, very human. Meander if you want to get to town.
It means that no matter what you write, be it a biography, an autobiography, a detective novel, or a conversation on the street, it all becomes fiction as soon as you write it down.
I don’t feel the need to prove myself by writing the next generational novel.
Let’s put it this way: if you are a novelist, I think you start out with a 20 word idea, and you work at it and you wind up with a 200,000 word novel. We, picture-book people, or at least I, start out with 200,000 words and I reduce it to 20.
It’s been more than a decade since I put that self-published novel, ‘Lip Service’, up on a website. Since then, many hundreds of authors have gone from self-published to traditionally published.
I was a little bit wary of playing Nicholas. In the script, which I think is true of the novel and the film, he’s the only character not singing and dancing in a musical style. Playing someone who is the personification of good is a little difficult.
A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.
If I’d had more time or been a better writer, I would have tried to put the same ideas and experiences into a novel. But I didn’t so I slapped it up on the Web.
And it is a folly to try to craft a novel for the screen, to write a novel with a screen contract in mind.
I wanted to write a novel where the meaning is in the story and characters and the subliminal, in the shades and nuances. It’s exciting to develop that as a writer.
Night is certainly more novel and less profane than day.
Considering my specialization in architecture, I’m not surprised that the first graphic novel to thoroughly engage, not to say captivate, me is Chip Kidd and Dave Taylor’s ‘Batman: Death by Design.’
When I am writing fiction, I believe I am much better organized, more methodical – one has to be when writing a novel. Writing poetry is a state of free float.
If I had simply wanted to trade on an insult to Islam, I could have done it in a sentence rather than writing a 250,000-word novel, a work of fiction.
The decision to use a pen name was nothing more than a desire to compartmentalise my life. However, I had not thought about an appropriate pseudonym, and since there’s an abundance of anagrams in the novel, the idea struck me: why not use an anagram of my name? Hence, Shawn Haigins.
My favorite period is World War II, and I’m in the middle of writing my fourth novel set in that era.
Divorce in a young-adult novel means what being orphaned meant in a fairy tale: vulnerability, danger, unwanted independence.
When you’re lucky enough to have a good film made of your novel – and ‘Never Let Me Go’ is, believe me, a heartbreakingly good film indeed – you get wonderfully talented individuals each focusing on their special area.
‘Lagoon’ is an ambitious novel.
English writing tends to fall into two categories – the big, baggy epic novel or the fairly controlled, tidy novel. For a long time, I was a fan of the big, baggy novel, but there’s definitely an advantage to having a little bit more control.
Memory is not particularly linear – it is associative, repetitive, subjective and porous. But the writer needs to convey disorder and dysfunction without making the novel itself disorderly or dysfunctional.
The financial markets tend to be just a backdrop for a novel, for a heist or something that isn’t necessarily integral to it. On the whole, I don’t think the financial world has been well served by novels.
I was pretty dead set against ever writing an academic novel. It’s always been my view that there are already more than enough academic novels and that most of them aren’t any good. Most of them are self-conscious and bitter, the work of people who want to settle grudges.
I found my first novel difficult. I don’t want to make it sound like it’s any more difficult than driving a cab or going to any other job, but there are so many opportunities for self-doubt, that you just kind of need to soldier on.
The novel is a penetrating study of morals and ethics.
I’ve never yet managed to write a novel which didn’t have an Indian central character.
A novel captures essence that is not possible in any other form.
When I started working on ‘Stay With Me,’ I thought it would take two years to complete the novel.
I would recommend the short story form, which is a lot harder to write since you have to be so careful with words, until there is plenty of time to doodle through a novel.
I name the genre that I write in as ‘novel of voices.’
A scrupulous man will never produce a great novel.
A fact is a simple statement that everyone believes. It is innocent, unless found guilty. A hypothesis is a novel suggestion that no one wants to believe. It is guilty, until found effective.
Awful film adaptations follow novelists for the rest of their lives. An atrocious movie of ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ could have stigmatised the book, aggrieved the novel’s fans, and blighted my reputation forever.
I read the novel ‘Miracle at St. Anna’ when it was first released, and I loved it.
When I was working on my first novel, ‘The Quilter’s Apprentice,’ I knew I wanted to write about friendship, especially women’s friendship and how women use friendship to sustain themselves and nurture each other.
Although by 1851 tales of adventure had begun to seem antiquated, they had rendered a large service to the course of literature: they had removed the stigma, for the most part, from the word novel.
The turning point was when I hit my 30th birthday. I thought, if really want to write, it’s time to start. I picked up the book How to Write a Novel in 90 Days. The author said to just write three pages a day, and I figured, I can do this. I never got past Page 3 of that book.
A novel should be an experience and convey an emotional truth rather than arguments.
When I sit down to write a novel, I am exploring my own relationship with God, with the struggle between good and evil, my own purpose.
You’re getting everyone’s point of view at the same time, which, for me, is the perfect state for a novel: a cubist state, the cubist novel.
Writing a novel is actually searching for victims. As I write I keep looking for casualties. The stories uncover the casualties.
I hope to read a Harry Potter novel soon, to see what it’s all about. I admit to being annoyed that many good light fantasy writers have had trouble getting published, in England and elsewhere, when it is obvious the readers were waiting for us all along.
In writing a novel about George Sand, I hoped to present her as the talented, beguiling, complicated and occasionally infuriating woman I think she was, but I hope, too, that readers will enjoy the people she surrounded herself with.
Babylon 5 is probably the biggest, most ambitious television science fiction series ever made. It’s one big novel told over five years with 110 different stories told within it.
A writer should bury his thoughts deep and convey them through the characters in his novel.
After immersing myself in the mysteries of the Electoral College for a novel I wrote in the ’90s, I came away believing that the case for scrapping it is less obvious than I originally thought.
In my personal life, I’m a comic novel. But then, so are we all, because we’re human beings.
I suspect there are two kinds of novelists. Those who have a point of view and have something to say and then write a novel in order to say that thing, and those of us who write the book in order to find out what we think about that thing.
The ordinariness of living to be old is too novel a thing to appreciate.
In the West, audiences think I am a stereotyped action star, or that I always play hitmen or killers. But in Hong Kong, I did a lot of comedy, many dramatic films, and most of all, romantic roles, lots of love stories. I was like a romance novel hero.
I definitely want to act and I want to sing. If those two fall through, I want to become a writer, probably, like a songwriter for other people, or a novel writer. I write a lot, and I read a lot. I like reading fiction.
However novel it may appear, I shall venture the assertion, that, until women assume the place in society which good sense and good feeling alike assign to them, human improvement must advance but feebly.
It was my angry, Dickensian novel, I suppose. It was cathartic – I expended a lot of frustration on that one.
You can write a short story in two hours. Two hours a day, you have a novel in a year.
People have asked me why I made the first chapter of my first novel so long, and in an invented English. The only answer I can come up with that satisfies me is, ‘To keep out the scum.’
If you have to deal with our friends at ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, it’s like a Kafka novel. Files just disappear.
When I was sixteen, I wrote the first hundred or so pages of a novel about a piano that was haunted by the ghost of an evil blues musician.
My dream was to be known as a writer and to be able to produce at least one book that would be read by people. That dream came true with the publication of my first novel – and all the rest has been a sweet bonus.
In many ways, my entire graphic novel career was a long diversion. Originally, all I wanted to do was to be an underground cartoonist and maybe bring out a groovy underground mag.
I would come, many years later, to understand why ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ is considered ‘an important novel’, but when I first read it at 11, I was simply absorbed by the way it evoked the mysteries of childhood, of treasures discovered in trees, and games played with an exotic summer friend.
For all the social changes in China can be traced to their early beginnings in the days when the new tools or vehicles of commerce and locomotion first brought the Chinese people into unavoidable contact with the strange ways and novel goods of the Western peoples.
The pleasure of writing fiction is that you are always spotting some new approach, an alternative way of telling a story and manipulating characters; the novel is such a wonderfully flexible form.
Only in the mystery novel are we delivered final and unquestionable solutions. The joke to me is that fiction gives you a truth that reality can’t deliver.
In our own state, we came up with, I think, what was a very novel approach to closing the gap on the uninsured. To harmonize medical records – which was a major step in getting costs out of the system.
Novel writing is far and away the most exhausting work I know.
Film is important; it can be more than reportage or a novel – it creates images people have never seen before, never imagined they’d see, maybe because they needed someone else to imagine them.
The great American novel has not only already been written, it has already been rejected.
I did not think much what I was writing them for, except that I knew I wanted my next novel to be in some less conventional form than straight narrative.
The novel is about five students of classics who are studying with a classics professor, and they take the ideas of the things that they’re learning from him a bit too seriously, with terrible consequences.
The atmosphere of orthodoxy is always damaging to prose, and above all it is completely ruinous to the novel, the most anarchical of all forms of literature.
I didn’t feel the need for anonymous affection, for people in the dark applauding. To me, it would be like writing a novel and then getting up every night and reading your novel. Everything I did is on the record and, if you want to hear it, just listen to the record.
I’ve written a lot of books now; I’ve been published for over 30 years. I hope with every book I learn something new, and with every new novel I try to improve the process of writing.
Good fiction creates empathy. A novel takes you somewhere and asks you to look through the eyes of another person, to live another life.
I just finished a novel called ‘Exult,’ by Joe Quirk, last night. It’s about hang gliding. I liked his first book, too, ‘The Ultimate Rush.’ I now know that I never, ever, ever want to go hang gliding, so that’s good.
‘Lucky Us’ ends with a description of a photograph of the novel’s fictional family. I could never get enough of my own family photo albums.
A novel is balanced between a few true impressions and the multitude of false ones that make up most of what we call life.
I placed my new novel, ‘The Book of Lost Fragrances’, in Paris, knowing it would be a challenge. But the book belonged in the city that is one of the greatest perfume capitals of the world and has been since for more than three centuries.
Each novel is harder than its predecessor because I must work harder at not repeating myself. However, I enjoy the challenge. This is the greatest job in the world.
In the second grade, I would just get bored and a joke would pop into my head and I would have to say it. It was almost like I had some brilliant novel in my head that I had to get down, and I would interrupt class all the time and get in trouble.
When I wrote ‘The Pregnant Widow’ three or four years ago, I tried to reread my first novel, ‘The Rachel Papers,’ because their young heroes are the same age. I couldn’t finish it. It seemed to me so technically slapdash and weak.
Life is God’s novel. Let him write it.
I think most fiction writers naturally start by writing short stories, but some of us don’t. When I first started writing, I just started writing a novel. It’s a hard way to learn to write. I don’t recommend it to my students, but it just happens that way for some of us.
Maybe some people, when they sit down to write their great novel or make their great record or paint their great painting, they have it all planned out in their head. But for me, it’s never worked that way.
I believe in three-act structure. When I say that to novel people, or people in the world of books, they go, ‘Well, that’s a film thing.’ However, even a good joke has three acts.
You have a billion people who know ‘Tribbles’ and only half a million who know my novel ‘The Man Who Folded Himself,’ which is one of my better-known books.
A short story is the shortest distance between two points; a novel is the scenic route.
I have often heard that the novel is dead. But I see novels produced, I don’t know how many a week, in France. I have the impression it’s carrying along quite well.
I was once a graduate student in Victorian literature, and I believe as the Victorian novelists did, that a novel isn’t simply a vehicle for private expression, but that it also exists for social examination. I firmly believe this.
Watergate is an immensely complicated scandal with a cast of characters as varied as a Tolstoy novel.
No… a novel is a long business. I’m a slow writer, even when I’m doing very well I write slowly.
A novel is a collision of ideas. Three or four threads may be floating around in the writer’s consciousness, and at a single moment in time, these ideas collide and produce a novel.
The first novel I wrote was a monster – clocking in at 180,000 words – but it died a death, a death it deserved. It was called ‘The Gods First Make Mad.’ It was a good title, but it was the only good thing about the book. I didn’t let that put me off.
One should be able to return to the first sentence of a novel and find the resonances of the entire work.
Hemingway is terribly limited. His technique is good for short stories, for people who meet once in a bar very late at night, but do not enter into relations. But not for the novel.
I’m not the sort of writer who can walk into a party and take a look around, see who’s sleeping with whom and go home and write a novel about society. It’s not the way I work.
I used to write books and plays in my mind, but I doubt that any of them would have been above the level of the cheapest dime novel.
I write easily, let’s put it that way. And in a novel particularly, the characters take over. And they tell me what to say and they tell me what they’re doing. And I’m a third of the way into a novel and then I just let the characters finish it for me.
In a novel, if you’re any good, you don’t just have good people or bad people. You have complicated people. You have real people.
Before I was reading science fiction, I read Hemingway. Farewell to Arms was my first adult novel that said not everything ends well. It was one of those times where reading has meant a great deal to me, in terms of my development – an insight came from that book.
My first novel, ‘Leaving Atlanta,’ took at look at my hometown in the late 1970s, when the city was terrorized by a serial murderer that left at least 29 African-American children dead.
The same parts of my brain get as excited as when I study bio or read a novel and write a paper on it.
You can catch a scent in the wind – an idea, or a concept – and follow it. You can delve into your subconscious and see what happens, in a way you just can’t when you’re writing a novel.
I always imagined a writer was someone who lived in an attic in Paris, but my mum instilled in me a belief that I could do anything – so I ended up writing my first novel while working nights as a news reporter.
When readers close the covers on ‘Running the Rift,’ I want them to understand that it is not a genocide novel but rather a story of hope and rebirth.
Become slower in your journey through life. Practice yoga and meditation if you suffer from ‘hurry sickness.’ Become more introspective by visiting quiet places such as churches, museums, mountains and lakes. Give yourself permission to read at least one novel a month for pleasure.
It’s like that Simpsons joke – they’re filming a cow in a movie and they go, ‘OK, we’ll tape a bunch of cats together to make a cow’, and it’s like, ‘Why don’t you just use a cow?’. For some reason that is novel – like, ‘Oh, my guitar sounds like a piano and now if I can just get my piano to sound like my guitar’.
There is no happiness in love, except at the end of an English novel.
I think the worst and most insidious procrastination for me is research. I will be looking for some bit of fact or figure to include in the novel, and before I know, I’ve wasted an entire morning delving into that subject matter without a word written.
Any fool can write a novel but it takes real genius to sell it.
With this first novel, I am just above the foothills, but I see the path to the top, and it is my desire to write compelling stories about everything that I find of interest.
Every novel generates its own climate, when you get going.
Landscape is to American painting what sex and psychoanalysis are to the American novel.
‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ convinced me to drop out of Harvard graduate school. The novel reminded me of everything my Ph.D. program was trying to make me forget. Thank you, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
The novel is a seduction; a reader has to be seduced.
I’m snobby about books that aren’t crime fiction: if I start reading a literary novel and there’s no mystery emerging in the first few pages, I’m like, ‘Gah, this obviously isn’t a proper book. Why would I want to carry on reading it?’
Turning one’s novel into a movie script is rather like making a series of sketches for a painting that has long ago been finished and framed.
I always seem to get inspiration and renewed vitality by contact with this great novel land of yours which sticks up out of the Atlantic.
‘Annapurna’ is a sort of novel. It’s a novel, but a true novel.
Nothing induces me to read a novel except when I have to make money by writing about it. I detest them.
My first novel was called ‘Betrayed by F. Scott Fitzgerald,’ about the difficulties of graduating from college, the longing and mourning you feel when all your promise seems to float away.
I still find it absurdly difficult to concentrate on a novel if there’s a phone or computer to hand; I have taken to locking them outside the room like noisy pets.
The difficulty of writing a second novel is directly proportional to how successful the first novel was, it seems.
I took inspiration from ‘Fountainhead,’ the way in which Ayn Rand conveyed her political philosophy through an immensely popular novel.
I wasted a lot of years working on my writing and very grandly saying, ‘And now… My Novel!,’ which would soon be reduced to a short story, then to a paragraph.
When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.
I’ve decided to take advantage of outsourcing. My next novel will be written by a couple of guys in Bangalore, India.
For me, a paragraph in a novel is a bit like a line in a poem. It has its own shape, its own music, its own integrity.
The magical and fantastical isn’t something I’m uncomfortable with in books, and I chafe slightly at the idea that a purely realist novel somehow has more value.
I don’t want to write a novel per year. I know that I need a break of one or two years. So maybe I invent some new, urgent activity so I don’t fall into the trap of starting a new novel.
Sometimes writing a novel is not unlike having a baby. You’d have to ask a female novelist to compare the pain.
How much energy is wasted in Italy in trying to write the novel that obeys all the rules. The energy might have been useful to provide us with more modest, more genuine things, that had less pretensions: short stories, memoirs, notes, testimonials, or at any rate, books that are open, without a preconceived plan.
I have no favourite genre or style but treat each novel with the same care, imagination and craftsmanship. It’s as difficult to write a crime or a children’s novel with a touch of style and grace as it is a literary novel.
Believe it or not, I sold my first novel, ‘Crank,’ with only seventy-five pages complete. It was in verse then, and it was hard-hitting then.
Proust’s ‘In Search of Lost Time,’ especially ‘Time Regained,’ made me think differently about what the novel is and can do. Then I forgot about it, then reread it and remembered again.
Everyone thinks they’re going to write one book of poems or one novel.
A romance novel focuses exclusively on two people falling in love. It can’t be about a woman caring for her aging mother or something like that. It can have that element, but it has to be primarily about the male-female relationship.
I wrote a novel called ‘Blonde,’ which is about Norma Jean Baker, who becomes Marilyn Monroe, which I called a fictitious biography. That uses the material as if it were myth – that Marilyn Monroe is like this mythical figure in our culture.
I feel like my brain is more geared towards a novel than it is to a movie.
I think my novel, ‘Walden Two,’ has made people stop and look at the culture they have inherited and wonder if it is the last word or whether it can be changed.
Since I have come to America, I am often asked whether my next novel will be set in America. I don’t think it will. I think I will be living in America for some time to come, but while living in America, I would like to write about Japanese society from the outside.
There is no other way of writing a novel than to begin at the beginning at to continue to the end.
I’ve always enjoyed that kind of thing – thinking about the production of narrative and why it is that when we read a novel, we don’t notice the fact that someone who might be very close-mouthed or tight-lipped is perfectly willing to tell us a story in 600 or 700 pages.
As a teacher at Princeton, I’m surrounded by people who work hard so I just make good use of my time. And I don’t really think of it as work – writing a novel, in one sense, is a problem-solving exercise.
While working on my first five books, I kept wishing I was writing a novel. I thought until you wrote a novel, you weren’t taken seriously as a writer. It used to trouble me a lot, but nothing troubles me now, and besides, there has been a change. I think short stories are taken more seriously now than they were.
I always try to create conflict and drama in my books; it’s the engine of the novel.
The only obligation to which in advance we may hold a novel, without incurring the accusation of being arbitrary, is that it be interesting.
A novel is often a longer process in handling self-doubt.
Although a novel takes place in the larger world, there’s always some drive in it that is entirely personal – even if you don’t know it while you’re doing it.
Writing doesn’t come real easy to me. I couldn’t write a novel in a year. It wouldn’t be readable. I don’t let an editor even look at it until the second year, because it would just scare them. I just have to trust that all these scraps and dead-ends will find a way.
Every time that I write a novel I am convinced for at least two years that it is the last one, because a novel is like a child. It takes two years after its birth. You have to take care of it. It starts walking, and then speaking.
When I do a novel, I don’t really use the script, I use the book; when I did Apocalypse Now, I used Heart of Darkness. Novels usually have so much rich material.
I attempt to write a good novel. Whether it is literature or not is something that will be decided by the ages, not by me and not by a pack of critics around the globe.
I only did about one novel a year while I was working full time, but since 1993, I’ve averaged two and a half books a year.
Before I write a novel, images float around in my head that work like icons – they are meaningless in themselves, but serve as reminders.
The novel has always been the form that incorporates other forms. For me, it has always been the ultimate medium.
I don’t take notes. I don’t have any notebooks. I keep on trying to do that because it seems like a very writerly thing to do, but my mind doesn’t work that way. I tend to get the idea for a novel in a big splash.
No novel is a clone of any preceding one, though with a background cast of characters and things that has grown to thousands, there are many familiar aspects.
I’ve read science fiction my whole life. I never really dreamed that I’d be a published science fiction writer myself, but a short story I started years ago sort of demanded to be turned into a novel.
I think escapism is very important, certainly in my life. I love nothing more than escaping into the world of a film or a novel. To be involved in creating that for other people is a privilege.
All novels attempt to cut neural routes through the brain, to convince us that down this road the true future of the novel lies.
I don’t begin a novel or a screenplay until I know the ending. And I don’t mean only that I have to know what happens. I mean that I have to hear the actual sentences. I have to know what atmosphere the words convey.
The ‘interactive fiction’ format hasn’t changed in any fundamental way since the early 1970s, in the same way that the format of the novel hasn’t since 1700.
Novel writing wrecks homes.
I love Richard Yates, his work, and the novel, Revolutionary Road. It’s a devastating novel.
When technology is ready for something novel, when the components needed to build something new become affordable, it is going to be done by someone and more likely by several people.
When one starts writing a book, especially a novel, even the humblest person in the world hopes to become Homer.
I am a businessman at the end of the day. I have grown up with Excel sheets. I start out writing my novel with spreadsheets and the milestones in each chapter highlighted.
‘Atlas Shrugged,’ let’s face it, was probably the most important novel of the 20th century that was never a film.
It took me a long time to know enough about writing to really write short stories. You can’t just immerse yourself, as you do in a novel, and see where everything goes. Novels are a very flexible, accommodating form. Short stories aren’t.
Only in a novel are all things given full play.
It’s only a drawback in the States, where most people seem to have no real interest in other countries and the notion of a novel which might offer insight into life in the UK doesn’t seem to appeal very widely.
Any setting can be a good setting for a novel.
Normally, I have a lot of alpha readers on my books. These are people that, once I finish a novel, I let them look at it and give me a reader response.
When I was 26, I wrote my first mystery, ‘The Thomas Berryman Number’, and it was turned down by, I don’t know, 31 publishers. Then it won an Edgar for Best First Novel. Go figure.
In a revolution, as in a novel, the most difficult part to invent is the end.
Writing fiction is for me a fraught business, an occasion of daily dread for at least the first half of the novel, and sometimes all the way through. The work process is totally different from writing nonfiction. You have to sit down every day and make it up.
I started a second novel seven times and I had to throw them away.
It is a big temptation to me, when I create a character for a novel, to say that he is what he is because of faulty wiring, or because of microscopic amounts of chemicals which he ate or failed to eat on that particular day.
My son, Wolf, was born when I was past 40 and the author of a best-selling novel. That means he has grown up a middle-class child – one who sometimes asks me for stories of my childhood but knows nothing of what it means to grow up poor and afraid. I have worked to make sure of that.
I’ve always been a fan of the 19th century novel, of the novel that is plotted, character-driven, and where the passage of time is almost as central to the novel as a major minor character, the passage of time and its effect on the characters in the story.
The final test for a novel will be our affection for it, as it is the test of our friends, and of anything else which we cannot define.
A novel must be exceptionally good to live as long as the average cat.
I just realized quite early on that I’m not going to be the type who can write a novel every two years. I think you need to feel an urgency about the act. Otherwise, when you read it, you feel no urgency, either. So I don’t write unless I really feel I need to, and that’s a luxury.
It’s the technique, I think, of writing a novel that is difficult for a nonfiction writer.
To me, art and storytelling serve primal, spiritual functions in my daily life. Whether I’m telling a bedtime story to my kids or trying to mount a movie or write a short story or a novel, I take it very seriously.
In 1955, when I’d write a science-fiction novel, I’d set it in the year 2000. I realised around 1977 that, ‘My God, it’s getting exactly like those novels we used to write in the 1950s!’ Everything’s just turning out to be real.
I’ve written short stories in first person, but you have so much more control writing in third person. Third person, you know what everybody’s thinking. First person is very limiting, and I could never sustain a first person novel before.
Why do I like to write short stories? Well, I certainly didn’t intend to. I was going to write a novel. And still! I still come up with ideas for novels. And I even start novels. But something happens to them. They break up. I look at what I really want to do with the material, and it never turns out to be a novel.
Back in my 20s, when I wrote ‘A Place of Greater Safety,’ the French Revolution novel, I thought, ‘I’ll always have to write historical novels because I can’t do plots.’ But in the six years of writing that novel, I actually learned to write, to invent things.
Lost Illusion is the undisclosed title of every novel.
The stupidity of people comes from having an answer for everything. The wisdom of the novel comes from having a question for everything.
The storyline of a fantasy novel is filled with such a sense of enchantment, beauty and strangeness; it allows the writer to explore the big ontological questions of life that would sound like a sermon in a social realist novel.
I’m not the most prolific writer in the world, and, sadly, writing a novel involves a lot of effort.
Every decade of my life I attempted to write a novel. But I had nothing to say. I was far too self-absorbed, and now I realize I was writing for others, so that they’d applaud me, see my genius, tell me how wonderful I am, or be jealous of my success.
When you pick up a novel from the bed side table, you put down your own life at the same time and you become another person for the duration.
There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.
I have likened writing a novel to going on a journey, with some notion of the destination I will arrive at, but not the whole picture – which emerges gradually as a series of revelations, as the journey goes along.
‘Two’ is not written in the usual style of a novel. It’s a straightforward, linear narrative of my times, as I observed partition, and is told through multiple characters.
The two most common charges against the older fiction, that it pleased wickedly and that it taught nothing, had broken down before the discovery, except in illiberal sects, that the novel is fitted both for honest use and for pleasure.
I’ve always said that ‘Twin Peaks,’ to me, was like a novel we filmed every page of.
I can’t understand why a person will take a year to write a novel when he can easily buy one for a few dollars.
If you want to lose 40 pounds, you order salad instead of fries. If you want to be a better friend, you take the phone call instead of screening it. If you want to write a novel, you sit down and write a single paragraph. It’s scary to make major changes, but we usually have enough courage to take the next right step.
I had reached a point in my career in which I was ready to try something new in my writing, and the idea of a novel has always been in the back of my mind.
Narrative art, the novel, from Murasaki to Proust, has produced great works of poetry.
As for ‘Great Expectations’, it is up there for me with the world’s greatest novels, not least as it vindicates plot as no other novel I can think of does, since what there is to find out is not coincidence or happenstance but the profoundest moral truth.
When I feel like being a director, I write a novel.
When I’m working on a novel, I work 70-hour weeks.
What I want is to respond to the challenge posed by the mass media – to permit the novel to say what can only be said by narrative – to allow it to be itself.
I had always said to myself that forty was the cut off point of my apprenticeship which may for some people sound like a very long one, but the novel as art is a middle-aged art.
I sold my very first novel when I was 24 or 25 years old.
Movies are about people; there’re not about ideas. It’s like great novels. Great novels are not about ideas. There’s never been a great novel about ideas.
I know a lot of writers who would much rather be writing the Great American Novel, but they’ve got bills to pay and alimony, and so they take a job at a less-than-reputable paper. You know, you do what you gotta do.
I did not set out to write another novel. One day I sat down with the thought of trying my hand at a piece of nonfiction, a personal memoir of youth, but over the next several weeks, without intending it, the work began evolving into what has become ‘Tomcat in Love.’
Systematic philosophical and practical anti-intellectualism such as we are witnessing appears to be something truly novel in the history of human culture.
So, I outlined a horror novel and started writing.
When ‘Midnight’s Children’ came out, people in the West tended to respond to the fantasy elements in the novel, to praise it in those terms. In India, people read it like a history book.
It was only after five years in the army, when I was having to do a very boring job in a very boring place, that I thought: ‘Why not try writing a novel?’ partly out of youthful arrogance and partly because there had been a long line of writers in my mother’s family.
Does the novel have to deepen the psychology of its heroes? Certainly the modern novel does, but the ancient legends did not do the same. Oedipus’ psychology was deduced by Aeschylus or Freud, but the character is simply there, fixed in a pure and terribly disquieting state.
It’s no accident that my first novel was called Americana. This was a private declaration of independence, a statement of my intention to use the whole picture, the whole culture.
The suspense of a novel is not only in the reader, but in the novelist, who is intensely curious about what will happen to the hero.
Back in high school, I wrote a novel about a character named Bart Simpson. I thought it was a very unusual name for a kid at the time. I had this idea of an angry father yelling ‘Bart,’ and Bart sounds kind of like bark – like a barking dog.
People are so afraid to say the word ‘comic’. It makes you think of a grown man with pimples, a ponytail and a big belly. Change it to ‘graphic novel’ and that disappears.
A good novel editor is invisible.
The most difficult novel I have had to write in terms of just getting it done was The Vampire Lestat. It took a year to write.
I’ve always listened to music while I write, but none of my work has been so directly impacted by a song as my new novel, ‘So Cold the River,’ for which the brilliant strings piece ‘Short Trip Home,’ composed by Edgar Meyer and featuring the incredible Joshua Bell on violin, inspired much of the story.
The film of tomorrow appears to me as even more personal than an individual and autobiographical novel, like a confession, or a diary.
The object is very clear in the fight against racism; you have reasons why you’re opposed to it. But when you’re writing a novel, you don’t want the reader to come out of it voting yes or no to some question. Life is more complicated than that.
When my first novel, ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ was published in 2013, many readers were astonished to learn that in Asia, there were women who dressed in couture from morning till night.
My first novel – the novel I wrote before ‘Midnight’s Children’ – feels, to me, now, very – I mean, I get embarrassed when I see people reading it. You know, there are some people who, bizarrely, like it. Which I’m, you know, I’m happy for.
I’ve never read a young adult novel, though. I’m sure I would love it, but I’ve never read one.
The disappointing second novel is measured against the brilliant first novel – often no novel lives up to the first. Literary improvement seems like an unfair expectation.
I didn’t feel the need for anonymous affection, for people in the dark applauding. To me, it would be like writing a novel and then getting up every night and reading your novel.
Today I began the novel that I determined to be great.
To sing a song is quite different than to write a poem. I’m not and never will be a novelist, but to write a novel is not the same thing as writing a play. There is a difference in form, but essentially what you’re after is the same thing.
As to the differences between game work and novel writing, well, obviously the former is a lot less lonely – you’re in and out of meetings all the time, bouncing stuff back and forth with the level designers, the art department, the animation team, so forth.
I’m always trying to make something that is impossible to film. Why would somebody just read a novel when they can see it on TV or in the cinema? I really have to think of the things fiction can do that film can’t and play to the strengths of the novel. With a novel, you can get right inside somebody’s head.
Ideas come from all over, but as I write more and more, I find I’m always hunting for mood: I want to write a novel with a pervasive mood that sticks with you after you close the cover.
Poetry always runs away from you – it’s very difficult to grasp it, and every time you read it, depending on your conditions, you will have a different grasp of it. Whereas with a novel, once you have read it, you have grasped it.
I’ve been associated with Macmillan for over 45 years. I’d like to thank them for their continued commitment to my backlist and I look forward to continuing to work with them as they publish my next novel, ‘Vicious Circle’ in 2013.
When you’re writing a novel, you don’t want the reader to come out of it voting yes or no to some question. Life is more complicated than that. Reality simply consists of different points of view.
What’s the challenge in writing a novel that few people will read? I’m more than happy writing what I do and have no plans to change that.
Women want love to be a novel, men a short story.
I have never started a novel – I mean except the first, when I was starting a novel just to start a novel – I’ve never written one without rereading Victory. It opens up the possibilities of a novel. It makes it seem worth doing.
I had written a novel that was more of a classic linear novel, and I worked on it and worked on it for years, and it always seemed like it wouldn’t catch fire. At a certain point I just scrapped it all, and I kept maybe 15 percent of it, and I wrote those parts out on note cards.
I completed my first novel when I was 19 years old.
Here was a fragment of Goddess myth that, through all its permutations, had somehow escaped being turned on its head. It was the perfect springboard for the sort of novel I wanted to write.
‘The Satanic Verses’ was denied the ordinary life of a novel. It became something smaller and uglier: an insult.
Whenever you have two characters in a book, whether it’s a novel or nonfiction, you run the risk that the reader is going to like one more than the other. They’re going to read one chapter and say, ‘I can’t wait to get back to the other guy.’
I first became an Alan Moore fan in Covent Garden on a Saturday afternoon in 1987, when I bought a copy of ‘Watchmen,’ his graphic novel about ageing superheroes and nuclear apocalypse.
I wrote a novel for my degree, and I’m very happy I didn’t submit that to a publisher. I sympathize with my professors who had to read it.
To me, ‘The End of the Jews’ – both the title and the novel itself – is about the end of pat, uncritical ways of understanding oneself in the world.
The novel space is a pure space. I’m nobody once I go into that room. I’m not gay, I’m not bald, I’m not Irish. I’m not anybody. I’m nobody. I’m the guy telling the story, and the only person that matters is the person reading that story, the target. It’s to get that person to feel what I’m trying to dramatize.
My first novel, ‘When You Were Mine,’ was a very, very personal story and drew a lot on the people in my life and the relationships that I had.
Great wealth could make an enormous difference over the next decade if they sensibly support the scientific elite. Just the elite. Because the elite makes most of the progress. You should worry about people who produce really novel inventions, not pedantic hacks.
It’s true that at the time I was fond of Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan, and it was from them that I learned about this kind of simple, swift-paced style, but the main reason for the style of my first novel is that I simply did not have the time to write sustained prose.
Jigsaw Lady is the working title of a science fiction novel I’ve had in my head for darn near 15 years. I think I’ll start work on it next year (in all my spare time) but I’d like to get it finished some day.
I had been a student in Vienna, and one of the neat little things I had found out was about that zoo. It was a good debut novel for me to have published. I was 26 or 27 when it was published. I already had a kid and would soon have a second.
You know that feeling when you finish a final exam and you think, ‘I never want to do that again’? Well I have the same feeling when I finish a novel. Each time I say, ‘I think I may retire now’ and then after six months the ideas start to churn again. I could never stop.
I regard this novel as a work without redeeming social value, unless it can be recycled as a cardboard box.
I see the poem or the novel ending with an open door.
I never discuss a novel while I’m writing it, for fear that talking about it will diminish my desire to write it.
Several years ago, when I was about to start a novel, I thought I might get some mileage out of the idea of a civilization in which people somehow felt – that is, they shared – all the pain and all the pleasure they caused one another.
I was a total nerd growing up. I’d rather sit home and read a novel on New Year’s Eve and say, ‘Wow, I read the whole thing in one night!’ That was my idea of a big time.
What makes literature interesting is that it does not survive its translation. The characters in a novel are made out of the sentences. That’s what their substance is.
If I had a plot that was all set in advance, why would I want go through the agony of writing the novel? A novel is a kind of exploration and discovery, for me at any rate.
For me, writing a novel is like having a dream. Writing a novel lets me intentionally dream while I’m still awake. I can continue yesterday’s dream today, something you can’t normally do in everyday life.
Being a novelist and being a mother have exactly coincided in my life: the call from my agent saying that I had a contract for my first novel – that was on my answering phone message when I got back from the hospital with my first child.
In a novel you have to resist the urge to tell everything.
It is very tough to make a short film. It’s like writing a short story, which is tougher than writing a novel. You can’t afford to faff around; you can’t indulge. You have to get to the point.
Just keep writing, and try to finish that novel. Remember, all authors started exactly where you are right now; the only difference between a published author and a non-published one is that the published author never stopped writing.
The novel is born of disillusionment; the poem, of despair.
Poetry seems to sink into us the way prose doesn’t. I can still quote verses I learned when I was very young, but I have trouble remembering one line of a novel I just finished reading.
A screenplay is not a finished product; a novel is. A screenplay is a blueprint for something – for a building that will most likely never be built.
Writing a novel is not method acting and I find it easy to step out of it at cocktail hour.
I originally wrote ‘The Martian’ as a free serial novel, posting one chapter at a time to my website.
The impulse of the journalist is to be novel, yet to relate his curiosities to the urgencies of the moment; the philosopher seeks what he conceives to be true, regardless of the moment.
I wrote ‘Yellow Submarine’ for the Beatles. I wrote the screenplay for ‘The Games,’ about the Olympic Games. I wrote ‘Love Story,’ both the novel and the screenplay. I wrote ‘RPM’ for Stanley Kramer. Plus, I wrote two scholarly books and a 400-page translation from the Latin, and I dated June Wilkinson!
The novelist teaches the reader to comprehend the world as a question. There is wisdom and tolerance in that attitude. In a world built on sacrosanct certainties the novel is dead.
If you set out to write an adjective novel, you’re setting out to write a mediocre novel; your allegiance is to the adjective, not to the story, and then that just sucks all the joy right out of it.
Human beings, you see, do absolutely two primary things. We see like and unlike. Like becomes, in literature, simile and metaphor. Unlike becomes uniqueness and difference, from which I believe, the novel is born.
My first novel, ‘Housekeeping,’ was accepted by the first agent who read it, and bought by the first editor who read it. In general, my experience with publication has been gentle and gratifying.
The state of childhood resonates with life inside a fantasy novel. If you have no control over how you spend large chunks of your day, or are at the mercy of flawed giant beings, then the desire to bend the laws of the world by magic is strong and deep.
And I don’t want to begin something, I don’t want to write that first sentence until all the important connections in the novel are known to me. As if the story has already taken place, and it’s my responsibility to put it in the right order to tell it to you.
My advice to anyone adapting a novel is that once they’ve read it and learnt to understand it, then they must throw it away and never look at it again!
I like that original romance of having a pen and a legal pad and going anywhere in the world and being able to write a novel with just those two things.
If you’re gonna use simile, analogy, metaphor, be descriptive and have some flowery adjectives and a few odd nouns and some engaging bits of dialogue or sentiment, then you’re sort of writing a novel, really. But rock lyrics are not really known for their sophistication.
In Jenny Offill’s remarkable first novel, ‘Last Things,’ 7-year-old Grace Davitt watches her mother, Anna, descend into madness and tries to make sense of the claustrophobic world that Anna has created for her.
Many characters in the novel are representative of types that exist in India. He represents the caste system in India with an air of superiority, the caste system in India and the people thinking that western things are better.
Restoration I did because I really loved e novel and I like Michael Hoffman, who directed it, but it wasn’t a really challenging part for me. I’m not critical of the film: I just don’t think I gave a very interesting performance.
A novel is never anything, but a philosophy put into images.
No matter how ephemeral it is, a novel is something, while despair is nothing.
You are – all your experience just kind of accumulates, and the novel takes a richness of its own simply because it has the weight of all those years that one’s put into it.
The lust and attraction are often a given in a romance novel – I want to dig into the elements of true friendship that form a foundation for a solid, gonna-last-forever romantic relationship.
If I have any advantage, maybe, as a writer, it is that I don’t think I’m very interesting. I mean, beginning a novel with the last sentence is a pretty plodding way to spend your life.
Continuous present is all we have, and stream of consciousness – which in a novel is arguably just as artificial as the stilted dialogue that you get in most conventional novels. They’re all stratagems to try to get closer to the texture of lived life.
If you’re reading a mystery novel, you kind of want the character to solve the crime instead of completely bumble their way through it.
Successful fiction does not need to be validated by ‘real life’; I cringe whenever a writer is asked how much of a novel is ‘real’.
I had a romance novel inside me, but I paid three sailors to beat it out if me with steel pipes.
Jill Eisenstadt’s comic second novel, ‘Kiss Out,’ is a work of such extravagant wackiness, eccentricity, and exuberance that any attempt to squeeze it into the confines of a simple plot summary seems doomed to failure and is possibly pointless.
Strangely enough, the first character in Fried Green Tomatoes was the cafe, and the town. I think a place can be as much a character in a novel as the people.
Novels aren’t pedagogical instruments, or instructions in law or physics or any other discipline. A novel has to be an emotional experience, a trip of the imagination, and because science has raised so many issues that concern and affect humans, it’s a good starting place for me.
Creativity is generating ideas that are novel and useful. I define originals as people who go beyond dreaming up the ideas and take initiative to make their visions a reality.
I was very influenced by The Magic Mountain. It’s a book that had a huge impact on me. I loved that as a shape for a novel: put a bunch of people in a beautiful place, give them all tuberculosis, make them all stay in a fur sleeping bag for several years and see what happens.
After finishing a draft, no matter how rough, I almost always put it aside for a while. It doesn’t matter if it’s a story or a novel, I find that when it’s still fresh in my mind I’m either thoroughly sick of its flaws or completely blind to them. Either way, I’m unable to make substantive edits of any value.
I never know when I finish the novel I am writing which will be the next novel out of the station.
When I was at Brown, I wanted to write the great American novel, but I was too scared to take a creative course. I signed up for one, got in, and just didn’t have the courage to go. I was a tremendously shy person, almost pathologically shy. The thought of peers critiquing my work – oh, God.
There is no bigger crime, in the English comic novel, than thinking you are right.
Reading a novel in which all characters illustrate patience, hard work, chastity, and delayed gratification could be a pretty dull experience.
Even though the method of ‘Harvest’ was a historical novel, its intentions were that of a modern novel. I’m asking you to think about land being seized in Brazil by soya barons. It’s also a novel about immigration.
I’m hoping to get started on a new novel.
I always felt a little worm inside me: ‘Now you need to write a novel with a woman protagonist.’
If I were a writer, how I would enjoy being told the novel is dead. How liberating to work in the margins, outside a central perception. You are the ghoul of literature. Lovely.
I usually have a sense of where my characters are personally and ways in which they might transform throughout the novel. But I never know at the outset how the book will end, nor do I ever stick to my original plan.
The fire burns as the novel taught it how.
Depending on what happens with my directing career, I don’t think I’ll stop writing, even if I crash and burn in movies and TV. I’ll go back to plays. Even if I crash and burn there, I’ll write a novel. That’s the great thing about writing is that you don’t have to wait for people to give you permission to do it.
A novelist writes a novel, and people read it. But reading is a solitary act. While it may elicit a varied and personal response, the communal nature of the audience is like having five hundred people read your novel and respond to it at the same time. I find that thrilling.
To read a novel requires a certain amount of concentration, focus, devotion to the reading. If you read a novel in more than two weeks, you don’t read the novel, really.
A novel should be a book of questions, not a book of answers.
There’s never a false note in a Berg novel.
I was thinking about what I wanted to write next, after my first novel, and had decided that I wanted to write a story with a lot of strong female characters in it.
If you write a novel alone you sit and you weave a little narrative. And it’s O.K., but it’s of no account.
In 1975, I went to the Dominican Republic for eight months during the shooting of a film based on my novel ‘Captain Pantoja and the Special Service.’ It was during this period I heard and read about Trujillo.
I may attempt a novel. I think that no matter what you write, it requires being honest with oneself, and you have to pull yourself out of the whirlwind of daily life.
I was writing a third novel when my kids arrived. And I looked at that book about whether these two people would get together, and I thought, ‘I don’t care! I’ve got kids!’
I enjoy research; in fact research is so engaging that it would be easy to go on for years, and never write the novel at all.
I had thought for years, probably 30 or 40 years, that it would be a lot of fun to try my hand at a classic English mystery novel… I love that form very much because the reader is so familiar with all of the types of characters that are in there that they already identify with the book.
I like shape very much. A novel has to have shape, and life doesn’t have any.
Unlike novel characters, comic book characters last an eternity. When a character is changed beyond recognition, there’s no longer the merchandising aspect.
There is no better way of elevating the novel than by making it into a construct which contains ideas.
The novel moves like all the arts. It’s transforming itself all the time.
What greatly annoys me is sometimes you see the short story being described as a training ground for the novel. Kind of like an apprenticeship. And in lots of ways, it’s a far harder form.
Good fiction must be entertaining, but what makes fiction special – and True – is that the realness of a novel allows it to carry a larger message.
People have quite a simple idea about ‘Anna Karenina.’ They feel that the novel is entirely about a young married woman who falls in love with a cavalry officer and leaves her husband after much agony, and pays the price for that.
I think the novel is not so much a literary genre, but a literary space, like a sea that is filled by many rivers. The novel receives streams of science, philosophy, poetry and contains all of these; it’s not simply telling a story.
My English teachers gave me a copy of Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ when I left high school, which has always been very special to me – it was the novel that introduced me to dystopian fiction. I’m also influenced by Edgar Allan Poe, Dickens, John Wyndham and Middle English dream-visions.
Although when I start a novel I know how it will begin and end, I like to let the people within the story take me on a journey between those points without having a fixed plan.
A novel, I think, is partly about the contemporary and partly about the eternal, and it’s the balance of that that’s difficult to achieve.
I’ve read every single fantasy novel there is. I mean, I would challenge a lot of people to read more fantasy novels than I have.
I have never known a novel that was good enough to be good in spite of its being adapted to the author’s political views.
The process of rewriting is enjoyable, because you’re not in that existential panic when you don’t have a novel at all.
It’s true that immigrant novels have to do with people going from one country to another, but there isn’t a single novel that doesn’t travel from one place to another, emotionally or locally.
A novel’s whole pattern is rarely apparent at the outset of writing, or even at the end; that is when the writer finds out what a novel is about, and the job becomes one of understanding and deepening or sharpening what is already written. That is finding the theme.
I think every age has a medium that talks to it more eloquently than the others. In the 19th century it was symphonic music and the novel. For various technical and artistic reasons, film became that eloquent medium for the 20th century.
There are hours when I must force the novel out of my mind and be interested in the children.
In many ways, it’s easier to write a book. You have more latitude with structure, and you have the freedom to luxuriate within the internal lives and musings of your characters. But where a screenplay does not always demand great prose, a novel lives or dies by it.
I was one of seven, and we took a lot of road trips – long road trips. And this was before iPhones and iPads and DVD players in cars. I remember how novel it was when I got my own Walkman so I could listen to music.
The only reason for the existence of a novel is that it does attempt to represent life.
I only published my first novel at the age of 40. Till then, I wrote short stories.
Be the responsibility on their heads who raise this novel and extraordinary question of reception, going to the unconstitutional abridgment, as I conceive, of the great right of petition inherent in the People of the United States.