Phillip Hubbell in beBee in English, Creative Writers, Writers Project Manager Sep 27, 2016 · 2 min read · +700

Why I Don't Write Novels

Why I Don't Write Novels

“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.” Steven Wright

I love novels. I love fiction. I have ideas. However, I have never been able to write convincing dialogue. It always comes out sounding like mine…stilted, contrived, nervous and halting. All my life, I wanted to be a writer. I could see the stories in my head but the interaction between characters eludes me. So, I have been relegated to the world of narrative. I can describe what’s going on in front of the character as long as that character is me looking at the world I have created.

I feel bad about it. “I coulda been a contender” but for the voices of interlopers in my universes. I could never talk to girls either and luckily for me, I met my wife at a loud party. By the time she figured out I was devoid of witty repartee, we were married. I can read conversation and tell the difference between good and bad dialogue. All of mine always fell into the bad category. It is hard to pull off a fictional storytelling conversation when knowing nods are at the heart of them.

One of the things I have considered was taking on a co-writer. Once, upon a time, I had this idea for a science fiction novel. I had character biographies, a plot, a storyline and visuals out the wazoo. The working title was “Insignia”. It was the story of an object headed for Earth, spotted by the Hubble Telescope. It was large enough to do some serious damage on impact and the story had to do with the Hubble taking a picture of a symbol painted on it. The government hid it from the public but amateur astronomers were sounding the alarms.

Anyway, it gets closer and just before it collides with the Earth, it changes course, whips around the planet and basically eats the International Space Station and its occupants. The book was to have three storylines interwoven. One was the intrigue surrounding the cover up. One was the astronauts, now stranded inside the object and the other was an astronaut who was taking a spacewalk at the time of the incident. This was before the movie “Gravity” came out. I did my research into the space station and even tried to contact a local astronaut for realistic information about how an astronaut stranded outside of pieces of the space station might get back inside to await rescue. I even had character names.

I tried to contact a local screenwriter about helping me with the dialogue, but I think she thought I was a stalker.

I have a couple of these started but unrealized novels floating around here someplace. I did write a couple of short stories, but they were single character or narratives as well. I think that writers who can write convincing dialogue can probably talk to girls too. I have always wanted to write screenplays as well. However, you can see my dilemma. What my frustration has done has made me very critical of dialogue when I read it. In my first and only creative writing class, the teacher told us to both read and dissect other author’s dialogue and to just sit and listen to people talk…another stalker alert. I find myself overthinking the dialogue in the fiction I read. This actually interferes somewhat with the enjoyment of the flow of the story.

I have to give other writers credit for making the effort. To me, dialogue is king and convincing dialogue is masterful. I wish I could write it like I would like to read it. I also recognize that I wouldn’t want to read it like I would say it. Stammering out words related to the weather is usually the best I can do in person. In a business setting I do all right but, that’s a different kind of speaking. I don’t understand the weather. Fortunately, I married well, and my wife can talk to anyone…endlessly. It’s a gift.

Phillip J Hubbell is a writer, project manager and job seeker living in the American Midwest. It will be cold here soon.

Aurorasa Sima Sep 28, 2016 · #6

Hahaha, she really thought that? People would not know how you sound and that the dialogues sound like you. I believe once you get started you start to get into the characters and they develop their own personalities. Do you know Tom Sharpe? He sounds like him. Always. And it´s great fun. I bet it would be a treat to read a novel of yours.

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Jim Murray Sep 28, 2016 · #5

Nicely written. I'm pretty much the same way, @Phillip Hubbell. I wrote one novel about a mercenary soldier who was hired by a mafia family to instigate a war between two other families. I liked the premise and slaved over it for about a year. Then I gave my really smart sister the manuscript to read and she said....I have only one's long in places where it should be short and short in places where it should be long. Needless to say, that was the end of the era for me. I have written a dozen or so screenplays and had two of them badly produced. That's a whole other game that you simply don't have any control in. So here I am, just like you, blogging away in complete control and happy as a village idiot. Keep writing, this is a great medium for the dialogue challenged.

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Franci Eugenia Hoffman Sep 28, 2016 · #4

You may not write novels but you did a great job writing this post, Phillip Hubbell. And you state at the end of your last statement, it's going to be cold here soon. I'm wishing for cooler weather here in North Georgia, which may be next week.

Melissa Hefferman Sep 28, 2016 · #3

"But isn't it true that an author can write only about himself?" -Milan Kundera..... but most people don't notice so who cares. You want to write? Then write. All the "there's only one Hemingway" dialogues are inane. Of course there was only one Hemingway. And there's only one @Phillip Hubbell!!! Some will judge, typically unoriginal Hemingway wannabes, some will Love, some will Hate, again either or is reflective of that person's reality. You want to write? Then write. Your Heart says write? Then definitely 190% write. Do it for you. And keep doing it. Especially if you have an awesome wife high fiving you. :)

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Brian McKenzie Sep 28, 2016 · #2

I write conversation the way I talk. ...with a good dose of " damn, I should have said THAT " thrown in. I expect and suspect I will meet the same audience appeal I have in real life - currently a handful or so.

Deb Helfrich Sep 27, 2016 · #1

I resemble this dilemma, @Phillip Hubbell. Exactly why I started with a dog book - set the whole problem of dialogue to rest in an instant.

Well, not entirely.... I am certain the worst bits are when I had to convey a conversation with a Veterinarian.

Dialogue is exactly the reason we are used to screenwriting duos but fiction duos are like dodos. Maybe the key to writing dialogue is to hire an actor and voice record them?

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