How to write a novel

In Vikram Seth’s successful and hugely long novel, “A Suitable Boy” (1500 pages), Lata, a young woman, asks Amit, a writer, how you write a novel.

His answer, I feel (and so probably does every other reader), comes directly from Seth, talking about his own novel.

“I don’t know exactly….This is my first novel, and I’m in the process of finding out. At the moment it feels like a banyan tree…it sprouts, and grows, and spreads, and drops down branches that become trunks or intertwine with other branches. Sometimes branches die. Sometimes the main trunk dies, and the structure is held up by the supporting trunks. When you go to the Botanical Garden you’ll see what I mean. It has its own life—but so do the snakes and birds and bees and lizards and termites that live in it and on it and off it. But then it’s also like the Ganges in its upper, middle and lower courses—including its delta—of course.”

 

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