I regularly speak to people at careers fairs and the like and I am almost always overwhelmed by the amount of people who tell me that they have dreams of being a successful novelist such as Orlando Figes one day. I am always supportive of anyone who wants to follow their dreams but I understand how difficult it is to leave school and tell the world that this is what you want to do. The issue with a dream like becoming a novelist is that it does’t pay unless you are successful and success can be hard to find. With that being said, one should always pursue their dreams and if being a novelist is what you dream of, here are the skills which you will need to make it happen.
The absolute key to anyone who has dreams of writing for a living is that they have a strong level of creativity in their mind and an active imagination. Even if you plan to write on largely fact-based events, there is a certain joie de vivre which you will need to possess so that you are able to create something which is entertaining and ensures that the audience wants to read what you have written.
A novel does not just come together overnight, it takes hours and hours of writing and re-writing in order to complete it. Even before you get started on your novel you will need to spend a great amount of time researching and planning how you will go about writing your story. In order spend this level of time on your book, you must have 100% dedication and commitment.
Judge of Character
It is the characters within novels that the general public react to and resonate with and you must have the ability to create characters within your stories that people can relate to. In order to be able to do this, you must be a great judge of character in the real world and be able to spot nuances and ticks in a person’s makeup. If you are able to do this then you will find that character creation is far easier and you can invent people that the general public will feel emotional towards as they flick through the pages.
Grasp of English
This should go without saying but you would be surprised just how many people claim to want to write novels one day, yet their grasp of grammar is very poor. We live in a world of spellcheck and autocorrect which covers over the cracks of any grammar problems which we may have, but writing a novel is different to writing a text message. In order to write a novel that flows well and looks great, you need to have a firm grasp on grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, flow and pace. Without these skills, it is pointless starting a novel and you would be better off spending this time on improving your level of English.