With apologies to Dante Alighieri…
We have all probably started ill-fated novels that, shall we say, did not go where we wanted them to go. For one reason or another, either our will or our preparation or the idea failed us, and sure enough, they ended up in novel hell.
Save your novel from these sins, my fellow writers! Repent before it is too late!
First Circle: Limbo
Hello shiny idea for a novel! Should I write you? Should I not write you? Maybe I’ll write a few pages and see how you go. Should I… oohhh Farmville.
Second Circle: Lust
Novel, you are so brilliant, you shine like a beautiful bright beacon, nay, like filigree sparkling in the darkest of unlit nights. Everything you do is wonderful, to change but one of your words would be a sin unto mankind. Whatever you want novel, whether it’s second person stream of consciousness or an illogical plot twist or overwrought prose that makes people blush, you can have it, please take it, it’s yours. I LOVE YOU, NOVEL.
Third Circle: Gluttony
No time to eat. No time to work. No time for breaks. No time to attend to essential hygiene. Twenty-six-hours straight. MUST. WRITE. NOVEL. I. WILL. NOT. BURN. OUT.
Okay, I’m starting to get burned out…
Fourth Circle: Greed
Dude, Stephenie Meyer wrote that vampire book in like six weeks or something and now she’s a gagillionaire. How hard can it be?!
Fifth Circle: Anger
I hate agents, I hate query letters, I hate rejection letters, I hate editors, I hate published authors, I hate unpublished authors, I hate periods, I hate exclamation points, I hate semi-colons, I hate paper, I hate words, I hate the space between words, and most of all, I HATE THIS FREAKING NOVEL!!!
Sixth Circle: Heresy
You know what novel I don’t like? The Great Gatsby. I mean, what’s the big deal?! Green lights and drunks and parties and blah blah blah? What a bunch of trash. I threw that book across the room. That Scott person needs to get a clue, I can’t believe anyone published him. And DON’T GET ME STARTED on how much editing he needed.
Seventh Circle: Violence
Oh, you think you’re reeeeallll clever, don’t you, Manuscript. You think you’re smart and witty and amazing and your characters are funny and you’re going to make people cry. Well, how about I introduce you to my friend MR. SHREDDER!!! Mwa ha ha ha ha ha…..
Eighth Circle: Fraud
Oprah won’t REALLY care if I make up this memoir…
Ninth Circle: Treachery
What could possibly go wrong?
Need help with your book? I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and coaching!
For my best advice, check out my guide to writing a novel (now available in audio) and my guide to publishing a book.
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Art: El Coloso by Francisco de Goya