Novelist, Professor Gives Students Writing Advice

Screengrab via Bill Broun Professor Bill Broun, author of "Night of the Animals" holds a discussion, teaching students the art of novel writing.

Colin O’Leary

Staff Writer

Professor Bill Broun — an author and English professor at ESU — spoke to students about the art of writing a novel last week. 

The presentation was held in Stroud 117, and it was part of the monthly meeting for the university honors program. 

The talk began with a brief discussion about the history of the novel. Then, Broun shared some advice with students on how to write a novel and even spoke about his own novel “Night of the Animals.”  

Broun began with the difficulties writers face when completing a book. He explained the world is full of distractions, and these distractions must be managed in order to create art. 

“This world is designed to keep you from writing novels,” Broun said. 

To push back against this difficult design of the world, Broun recommended aspiring novelists and writers first put down the cellphone and pick up a book.  

“Less of this and more of this,” he gestured. 

He also advised students to limit their internet usage entirely if they’re serious about writing a novel. The focus should instead be on reading other books. 

Throughout his presentation, Broun mentioned the importance of reading as a foundation for writing novels. 

“You got to read a lot,” he said.    

There’s more to writing a novel than reading other literature. A writer also has to dedicate a lot of time and resources to the craft, according to Broun.  

He explained sometimes these resources have to be used or sacrificed in order for a novelist to work on their novel.  

When he was writing, “Night of the Animals”, Broun said he had to spend a good amount of money on child care so that he could fully work on his book. 

During his presentation, he acknowledged that the money could’ve gone elsewhere, but he needed to use it in a way that would help him create his art. 

“There’s some selfishness involved in writing a novel. There’s some selfishness involved in doing art,” he said.

To work through it, Broun stressed the need for a supportive environment and a need to be surrounded by people who care. 

“You have to have people in your life who support you in this crazy adventure,” he said.

One of his most important pieces of advice for students during his presentation was to not extinguish the inner fire of an artist. 

“If you’re an artist out there, you kind of know it already, and you’re not going to have a choice about pursuing it,” he said. 

He also stressed the consequences of not following that passion to create, and he warned of what could happen if one doesn’t pursue it. 

“If you’re an artist of any kind, you will not have a choice. It will not let you go. If you don’t honor that artist inside you, I think it will destroy yourself.” 

After Broun’s presentation, students had the opportunity to ask him questions about his novel and the craft of writing a novel.

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