Friday, 8 March 2013

Guest post by David Hough

David Hough is a member of the writing class I attend weekly, run by Della Galton. I mentioned him in a post a couple of weeks ago - some of his novels are about to be republished by Cloudberry books.  In this post, David writes about the inspiration for one of his novels - which I've recently read and reviewed here. David's known in our class as someone who sits down to write a short story and ends up writing a novel, and here he explains why that is, and why he prefers to write long rather than short. I must admit, I've really got into novel writing these last couple of years as well. 

Why Am I A Novelist?

Ten years ago, when I was a very novice writer, I wrote a short story and entered it for a competition. The theme was a tale set around three meals. I had been reading a non-fiction book about life in the Amazon rain forest and set my story around three meals in a remote tribal village. It won second prize. In his critique, the adjudicator told me he was fascinated by the tribal people and he wanted to read more. What happened next? What became of the main characters?

Heartened by his assurance that I had created a credible tale of believable characters, I set about writing what happened next. Very quickly I was drawn into a much longer story, one that related what happened before those three meals as well as what happened afterwards. In fact I ended up with a full length novel. Ten years later it has just been re-released on Amazon Kindle as The Long Road to Sunrise.

In the process of writing that tale of rainforest life I discovered that I enjoyed creating the full novel much more than I enjoyed cobbling together the short story. I liked my characters more because I knew more about them. Inevitably, they were rounded characters whereas the short story showed only limited parts of their personalities. I think this was the point where I discovered that I preferred to write as a novellist, not a short story writer. Don't get me wrong; I have great respect for writers who can create a complete story with credible characters within the limits of a thousand words or so. I admire their work. But it isn't my forte. I need the broad canvas of a novel to say all I want to say, to tell the reader what happened next.

Today, I have had twenty novels published and I have enjoyed writing every one of them. You can read more about the experience on my web site: Each story is different – I have never found myself trapped in one genre – but each has allowed me to explore the lives of the main characters completely. Occasionally, I still write the odd short story as a way of keeping in with the writing group I meet with each week. But I have no illusions about being a competent short story writer. And that doesn’t worry me. Margaret Mitchell could never have written Gone With The Wind in the space of one thousand word. She needed the full scope of a lengthy novel to tell us how the Old South disappeared like a breath of wind, and how Scarlett O’Hara grew from a petulant youngster to a determined woman. A short story based on the same theme would have given us only one small aspect of the whole sweeping panorama she actually created. That’s what I like about novel writing. That’s why I class myself as a novelist.

And a very good novelist, I'd say. By the way, if anyone's ever wondered where the word 'blurb' came from, take a look at David's own blog here, where he explains the origin of the term. 


Carolb said...

Interesting post, thank you David and Womag. Reassures me that some of us do just have longer stories to tell.

I despair every time I get what I think is a short story idea, only to write it and realise that it's just a scene from a much longer work...:-)

Sandra Pollard said...

I tend to equate writers with sprinters or marathon runners - I enjoyed researching and writing my non-fiction book as I wanted to share the story, but overall I'm more of a sprinter. Thanks, Womagwriter, for the intro to David's books. I look forward to reading them, especially those with a Cornish connection. Sandra (

Blog Master said...

I know exactly how you feel, Carol. But don't ever despair over it. Rather, if you have an idea which will work as a novel, give yourself a pat on the back.
And I like that idea of sprinters and marathon runners, Sandra. I must be a marathon runner but I usually run more than one race at a time!

Karen said...

Twenty novels - wow! Lovely guest post, I'm off to check out the blog now :o)

womagwriter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
womagwriter said...

I can relate to the running analogy too - and once wrote a non-fiction piece for The New Writer on that topic. Every novel starts with a single word written; every marathon run starts with a single step, etc.

These days I'm writing longer and also running further. Must be turning into a marathon-running novelist, perhaps!

Blog Master said...

I like that idea of the single word... single step. It's all about overcoming the psychological barrier of the mountain ahead of you. Once you start the journey you can say to yourself, "I AM writing a novel." It sounds so much more self-assured than, "One day I plan to write a novel."

Blog Master said...

You have been so kind in your comments, may I offer you a FREE novel download? You'll find it on my webs site:

Blog Master said...

My apologies to those of you who tried to get that free download. Twenty four hours after I posted it, a publisher offered to take the book. I had to remove it from my web site. It will be published later this year.