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I have nothing to say

The Seven Myths of Novel Writing

For ages I thought nobody would want to read a novel by ‘someone like me’. Who wants to read about someone who grew up in self-catering holiday flatlets in Bournemouth? And after I resisted writing about it for years, what did people say when my first novel came out? The main thing they liked about it was how they got to see behind the scenes at a family run hotel. The main thing. All that worrying I did, thinking I had nothing to say, was a waste of time. The story I thought nobody would want to hear turned out to be the most interesting part of the story.

You have a unique perspective on life

“I have nothing to say, I’m only a (fill in your own blanks).” Thing is, that’s not true. You’re unique, and therefore have a unique perspective on life. Because you are looking at the world through your eyes, nobody else can tell a story quite like you can. So myth number four in my round up of the seven myths of novel writing is: I have nothing to say.

I don’t think this is just true for me. I think this is true thousands of times over, in the minds of many, many would-be fiction writers. The thing you think nobody will want to know about – the thing you’re resisting, like I did with the hotel story – that’s likely to be the most important part of your story.

What story are you resisting?

So not only is this myth untrue, it’s got a hidden side, if you like. It’s got a flip side. If you find yourself saying ‘but I’ve got nothing to say’ I bet there’s a story (like my hotel in Bournemouth) that needs to be told.

Where did you grow up? Did you move around or stay in one place? What did you want to be? How did you get there, or what stopped you? What job do you do now? What’s unique to you? Did you grow up above a shop? Start there. Did you move around a lot because your parents were in the armed forces? Start there. Did your mum work as a florist? Start there. Then ask ‘what if?’

Of course you don’t have to write about something from your own life, but I want to challenge you to see that you do have something to say, and that often starts with you.

The Seven Myths of Novel Writing – all seven posts in one list

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