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The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 3rd Edition by Writer's Digest Writer's Digest Editors

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Chapter One

Training Your Ideas

How to Keep Your Inspiration from Running Wild

N.M. Kelby

After Truman Capote nearly destroyed himself writing his groundbreaking bestseller In Cold Blood in 1965, he was quoted as saying that his next book, a novel tentatively titled Answered Prayers, would be easy by comparison. “It’s all in my head!”

And that was the problem. Capote was a perfectionist, and the novel in his head was an untamed beast. His standards were so impossibly high that when he died in 1984, he’d spent the better part of nineteen years writing, rewriting, missing deadlines, publishing excerpts, drinking himself into a frenzy—and never finishing the work.

What writer hasn’t had a difficult time putting an idea into words—especially an idea ...

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