Sol Stein Rejected Novels

Sol Stein Reveals Why Novels Are Rejected

by Kalinda Rose Stevenson

The Essential Difference between Novels and Nonfiction

Sol Stein defines the essential difference between fiction and nonfiction which leads to the rejection of novels.
Sol Stein Why Novels Are Rejected

Why Do People Read Books?

People have many reasons for reading books. In broadest terms, novels and nonfiction have different functions  based on what readers want to experience. Sol Stein defines the difference this way: 

Nonfiction conveys information. Fiction evokes emotion. Because the intended results are so different, the mind-sets required for writing fiction and nonfiction are different.

In other words, good nonfiction gives you facts and good fiction gives you emotional experiences.

Why Read Novels?

People read novels for many reasons.

One reason might be reading fiction to escape temporarily from current life experience. Novels can take readers into new places, situations, or even new worlds. 

Another possible reason for reading novels is loneliness. Readers can ease their loneliness by becoming involved in the lives of fictional characters.

Another important reason is to be entertained. It's fun, interesting, and entertaining.

When Writers Distract

When writers provide information rather than an emotional experience, they have crossed the boundary between fiction and nonfiction. This is how Sol Stein describes this distraction:

In fiction, when information obtrudes the experience of the story pauses. Raw information comes across as an interruption, the author filling in.
The fiction writer must avoid anything that distracts from the experience even momentarily. A failure to understand this difference between nonfiction and fiction is a major reason for the rejection of novels.

Whether your own intention is to write fiction, nonfiction, or both, Sol Stein's description of the fundamental distinction between information and emotions provides valuable insight about the the craft of writing books.  Knowing this can be the essential difference between a published novel and a rejected novel.

About Stein on Writing

Stein on Writing provides immediately useful advice for all writers of fiction and nonfiction, whether they are newcomers or old hands, students or instructors, amateurs or professionals. As the always clear and direct Stein explains here, "This is not a book of theory. It is a book of usable solutions--how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place." With examples from bestsellers as well as from students' drafts, Stein offers detailed sections on characterization, dialogue, pacing, flashbacks, trimming away flabby wording, the so-called "triage" method of revision, using the techniques of fiction to enliven nonfiction, and more.
What are your thoughts about the differences between writing novels or nonfiction? Please leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you.

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