Jay Gatsby's Guide to Beginning Your First Novel
by Rebecca Bugger
Do Your Research
"Can't repeat the past?" he cried incredulously. "Why of course you can!"
Jay Gatsby, also known as The Great Gatsby, is a literature icon that is sure be remembered for some time. Just as the parties of the Roaring Twenties have faded in to history; the days of simply writing the next great American novel have come to an end. In order to break through, especially if you are a new author that is hoping to become a published, seasoned author, you have to do your research. A simple google search of popular books will suffice. If you really want to release your inner crazy flapper, you might even head on over to the New York Times website and check out their best-seller list. The novels on that list have been successful in the past for a reason. When you research why and what people are buying and what they want to read, you can use that knowledge as motivation and for inspiration. You can outline the structure of the book and use it as a guide for potential plotting.
Know Who You Are
“He had come such a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close he could hardly fail to grasp it.”
While learning what is popular and selling will help inspire you, don’t lose track of who you are as a writer along the way. Jay Gatsby created an idea and stuck to it, careless of who believed in him or who might have been whispering behind his back. As a writer, you have to learn to find a balance between what people want to read, the writer you have blossomed in to, and what story you want to tell. Don’t lose your grasp on what it was that drove you to write in the first place. Remember where you came from. Stay rooted.
Mix It Up
“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”
Just like there’s not a blueprint for picking and choosing who you fall in love with, there’s no blueprint that tells you how a novel should work. Don’t spend your time trying to focus on things like word count or character descriptions. At the beginning stages of this process let your creativity flow. Keep your own style and try not to aspire to write like any particular author; be bold and take chances with your writing. Don’t be afraid to choose a mixed drink over a glass of wine once in a while. After all, writing a book is a party and when you feel like dancing, for God’s sake, do the Charleston.
Know Who You Are Writing For
“In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.”
Who is your audience? Who is going to buy and read and share your book? Make sure that you Have a feel for what it is that will capture their interest. If you are writing Young adult fiction make sure the voices ring true. Then, as you are tailoring your novel to that audience, reach out to them! Find fans of other books that fit in to your category and connect with them on social media. You’ll never throw the best parties if no one ever gets an invitation! Spread the word!