Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Can you write a novel if you've never read one?

Can you write a novel if you've never read one? I'm sure there are a whole host of people out there anxious to assure me that it can and has been done. I welcome the comments and the lists of books written by non-reading writers. If they are available I promise to check them out. I wonder if any of the writers have taken the novel writing courses I teach.

One young man, a few years ago, told me he didn't need to read anything to be able to write his crime novel set in New York. He'd watched every episode of Law and Order on television. He hadn't been to New York either which, alas, neither have I. he wasn't able to tell me anything about the environment in which his crime was being perpetrated, where his villians lived, where the actioned happened or even what the weather was like on that particular day. He though, perhaps, he would borrow the Lonely Planet Guide for New York from the library so he could answer my questions.

I can't remember his name so I don't know whether he achieved his goal of writing the great New York crime novel. I do know, that teaching novel writing to the non-readers in any class does present some challenges. Fortunately they do tend to be in the minority in each new batch of students I face.

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