Musings: Writing a Novel is Like Flying to Kansas City
On a recent flight, I noticed how similar the experience was to my attempt to write a novel. Both contain the acts of takeoff, flight, and landing.
Takeoff is a dangerous part of flying; mishaps or miscalculations can cause the aircraft to crash. If the launch of the novel’s plot fails in the first few pages or chapters, the whole book can stall. The writer’s talent and the skill of the aircraft crew determine the success of gaining enough speed to get both plot and plane off the ground.
Flight might appear effortless once at cruising altitude; the story might seem self-propelled once plot and characters have been established. However, boredom sets in if no turbulence or plot twists occur to quicken the pulse. Barring episodes of stimulation, the passengers/readers will withdraw from the experience and find other ways to amuse themselves. The middle of the flight and the novel is the longest, and ennui the enemy.
Landing is the final act of flight; climax and resolution for the novel. Tray tables and seat backs are returned to their upright positions, possessions securely stored. Loose plot ends are tied up and conflicts resolved. Like takeoff, landing is a perilous part of flight, and the conclusion of the novel is crucial. Nothing should be left to chance, pilot and author should be as concerned with this segment as the other two – both must be conducted with intent and attention to detail.
I could continue this analogy ad nauseam, but my purpose in making the comparison is specific. I’m attempting what I hope is the last – and tenth – attempt to complete a novel I started several decades ago. I continue to pursue it, because I believe the story contains unique elements and will find readership.
I’ll keep the parallel of flight in my mind as I write this book one more time and hope to reach my destination.