In writing a novel, it is not just your protagonist that embarks on a journey but you, walking alongside your fictional companion like a medieval hero and his chronicler. This is a long road so imagine it as you like; perhaps carrying a shield upon your back and a sword in your hand, hiking in the woods with your best friend, or maybe doggedly pushing a shopping cart with your kid through an apocalyptic wasteland armed only with a revolver and two shells.
So, among all the other poignant, pointless and terrifying news stories that broke last week, it was announced in a Daily Mail ‘world exclusive’ that the hunt for the true identity of Jack the Ripper was over (again). Journalists across the land sprang into action, plundering Wikipedia in order to throw a bit of vintage murder porn together. This was all in aid of the latest book on the subject, Naming Jack the Ripper: New Crime Scene Evidence, A Stunning Forensic Breakthrough, The Killer Revealed by Russell Edwards (Sidgwick & Jackson, 2014).
If you aspire to write a novel, this is the best advice you will ever get. Try to forget, for a moment, the Atlantic of ink spilled upon the subject of ‘creative writing’ and bear with me. The truth is not always hidden at the bottom of the ocean. Whatever you are writing – especially if it’s a book-length project, whether fiction or non-fiction – I cannot overstate the importance of working on it every day.