Most science fiction readers want to be writers. They mine blogs like this for inside information. Fair enough; here’s the straight story from the old master, Mark Twain, presented over two posts with a third post to tell you where to get the rest of this little known gem, along with thousands of other free works to download.
I include this because I am of the Mark Twain school of writing. That is, I jump in with both feet and rarely know where it will all end. Twain says:
“A man who is not born with the novel-writing gift has a troublesome time of it when he tries to build a novel. I know this from experience. He has no clear idea of his story; in fact he has no story. He merely has some people in his mind, and an incident or two, also a locality . He knows these people, he knows the selected locality, and he trusts that he can plunge those people into those incidents with interesting results. So he goes to work. To write a novel? No? – that is a thought which comes later; in the beginning he is only proposing to tell a little tale; a very little tale; a six-page tale. But as it is a tale which he is not acquainted with, and can only find out what it is by listening as it goes along telling itself, it is more than apt to go on and on and on till it spreads itself into a book. I know about this, because it has happened to me so many times.
And I have noticed another thing: that as the short tale grows into a long tale, the original intention (or motif) is apt to get abolished and find itself superseded by a quite different one. It was so in the case of a magazine sketch which I once started to write? a funny and fantastic sketch about a prince and a pauper; it presently assumed a grave cast of its own accord, and in that new shape spread itself out into a book . . .”
More follows in the next post.