Novelists come in all types. Their drafting styles are as diverse as their work—and their penmanship. If you’re gathering a crowd of these writerly folks (good luck with that, lots of introverts in the crowd), here are five types you’re likely to see.
1. The Perpetual Nano-er
This type of novelist is forever typing at break-finger speeds. Fifty thousand words in a month? Forget that. This novelist thinks she can break a hundred thousand. Thirty days? No way—she’s shooting for twenty-eight. You’re likely to find this novelist hunched over her laptop, eyes dragging over lines on the screen as her fingers tear up the keys. She doesn’t believe in writing longhand—too slow—and she’s been known to bite if you interrupt her writing time. Which is twenty-four hours a day.
2. The Magnum Opus Hunter
This type of novelist bears the weight of his legacy. Each word could be the last one he ever writes. Each novel could be the one the world remembers him for—or doesn’t. You’ll often find him staring into space, contemplating his next book. Will it be good enough? Will it leave a mark? He writes less than the other types, slowed by inspiration-freezing uncertainty, and he rarely publishes.
3. The Cave Dweller
This type of novelist lives a normal life—ventures out to coffee shops, grocery stores, the occasional all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant (preferably served by conveyor belt). Then it happens. Inspiration strikes. The call of the words. The desperate need to create. And the novelist is kidnapped by her own characters. She disappears into her cave (which one can only imagine is populated by an endless stream of wifi, pens, paper, and coffee) and recedes from the known world. When she emerges, it’s with pages flying, and the first call she makes is to her editor.
4. The Stars-Aligned Writer
This type of novelist needs perfect conditions to write. A specific scent of candle and brand of pen. One time of day. A specific moment in the lunar cycle. He writes in either perfect silence or to a single, specific album—probably on vinyl. If someone suggests a write-in or an impromptu writing session, he turns up his nose and saunters away with a flourish of his topcoat.
5. The Dark Times Seeker
This type of novelist can only write when the emotions are real, when the pain is so close to the surface it threatens to swallow her whole, and she’s forced to release it in the form of words. You may find her seeking out pain as fodder for her work. If she’s crying over a shot of vodka in the local bar, you can be certain she’s reached the climax of her most recent book.
Hopefully this guide will help you interact with the novelists in your life! Don’t forget, all types run on coffee and praise. Just don’t feed them after midnight.
Photo by Michael Shaheen