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The Novel

Novels as we know them now are at least 50k+ word fiction books usually written for entertainment of the reader. But the novel has come a long way since it was first introduced. However, I’m not here to get into the real meat of the history of the novel because that would be too much research and I’m not taking my class on the novel until next fall. But am going to get into the history of the reader and the difference between the audiences we’re going for as opposed to two hundred years ago.

Two hundred years ago, not everyone could write a novel and nor did they have the time. The novel also wasn’t something for everyone to read. Before technology, people didn’t have the time to read a novel. Novels were for the rich and the upper middle class because they had the time on their hands to read it unlike the working class who could barely earn enough money for food let alone a novel, not to mention when would they have the time to read it? Therefore the writer’s audience were people who were educated and had class which was why most of your MC’s back then had some class or money. Look at Dracula, Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice. The characters in them are either struggling middle class, upper middle class, or upper class because that’s who their audience related to. And no one wanted to read about normal people. They weren’t ‘interesting.’

And the writers? They had to have the time to write them in a time where novels had to be written and rewritten entirely by hand, at least until the invention of the typewriter and that came with its own set of problems. Anyway, if you pay attention and do some research, most of these writers had some money from somewhere or used to (Jane Austen might be an exception. She and her family struggled). But the point was it took a certain type and class of person to write a novel.

Now let’s move up to 2011. There’s a big difference between the 18th century writer and the 21st. For one, the readership has changed, and there are more people, who have the time to read a novel. So that means a wider readership, a diverse set of likes and dislikes, and a lot of different people to appeal to. Next there was the invention of the word processor. Not only can you make up quick documents and write a novel easily on it, but you don’t have to rewrite an entire page to or chapter when you want to change something or add a scene! Then the internet came and now a person has unlimited access to information and the way to write a novel, so now you don’t have to be an English Major or study too extensively. If you need to know something, it’s usually as easy as a google search. This sounds like a good thing and it is, but this comes with its own set of problems too.

The above paragraph means that anybody can write a novel now! There’s no excuse not to write one. Everyone has a story to tell, and they want to tell it. The good thing is that though anybody can write a novel, not everybody will because even with how easy it’s been made, not everyone has the will to sit and write a novel. It seems easy, but technology has played us for fools. It’s not as easy as it seems. It’s just the technology has made it easier to go about. And let’s not even talk about the advances in psychology and this idea of making things realistic…

Then the readership and audience has gotten so diverse, you have to find your niche. Not only that though, because it’s gotten easier to write a book and there are so many writers out there vying for the attention of an audience, you better damn well know how to distinguish yourself and your voice so that you stand out.

So this is what we’re dealing with folks, not only us novelist, but writers in general. Just try and calculate the odds. You still want to write this novel? Well, if you’re still here, good. This month, for those willing to sit on their butts for hours and type, I’m going to try and help you make this journey as easy as possible. So sit back for the month and enjoy the ride.

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