Fun, Fickle Fiction (for Free!) Fact, Opinion, Essay, & Review Spectacular Features, Calendrical Happenings, Media Gadflies Poetry & Lyric Advice, How To, & Self-Help Listicles Semi-Frequent Columns Correspondence (Letters To and Letters From) Interviews The Book Club Letter from the Editors Disquieting Modern Trends Birthday Cards to Celebrities New & Noteworthy The Y.P.aRt Gallery Et Cetera, Et Cetera, Et Cetera The Y.P.aRchives Submit

 Atøm | Spanish
supportbar.jpg Bea!   Creative Commons License
This journal is licensed under a Creative Commons License and powered by Movable Typo 4.01.
Y.P.R. & Co.

The Journal of Literary Satire | Hastily Written & Slopilly Edited
Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cormac McCarthy on How to Write a Pulitzer Prize Winning Novel

by Adam Lefton

Cormac McC


Since this Pulitzer business began, people have asked me—“Cormac,” they say, “How did you do it? While other aged novelists’ work fizzles in their twilight years, you produced a most venerable roman, which has brought you great notoriety and acclaim. Please, let us in on your secret.”

Well, I tell them, it’s no big mystery. The answer is quite simple. I used Novel Writer Pro 2007 for PC.

When I decided to write another book, I had no clue where to begin, so I asked my son, “How are the young novelists writing books these days?”

He said, “Pops, without a doubt they’re using Novel Writer Pro.”

I bought the program and, within minutes of installation, I was up and writing.

Like any good novelist, Novel Writer Pro begins by considering the title. The software is really great. It reminded me that my title was only temporary, that I could change it at any time to better suit my novel’s purpose. I chose The Freeway of Despair.

I would not have known this had it not been for the software’s A.I. editor, a back-flipping cartoon red-ink pen named Steve who guides you through the whole novel process, but The Freeway of Despair, had I stuck with it, would have been taken less seriously by the prize-giving audience. Steve suggested a simple, one-word noun, and voilà!The Road it was.

If the mood suits you, Steve’s appearance can be changed to that of a dog or garden hoe. Though I can’t imagine what kind of novelist would take advice from a garden hoe.

Novel Writer Pro’s setting tutorial lays out all the basics. According to the software, all settings fall into one of four time categories: the past, the present, the future, and another world entirely in which time as we know it ceases to matter.

It was pretty tough deciding between the last two.

As you well may know, The Road takes place in the future, but it is also very much another world entirely. Fortunately, Novel Writer Pro has help desk technicians on standby 24/7 should you encounter any problems writing your novel. I was quickly connected to a young, Bangladeshi novel expert.

“Hello, Mr. McCarthy. This is Harun speaking. How can I be of assistance?”

Harun had me fixed up lickety-split!

“Ah, this is a very common problem. Let me ask you, is your novel set in another universe, or perhaps in a land populated by dragons and Orcs?”

I told him no—it’s just an Earth that feels like another world.

“Definitely the future then, sir.”

Novel Writer Pro’s excellent customer service saved me days of deliberation.

Of course, everyone knows a prize-winning novel needs more than just a good title and setting. It’s nothing if not for the story it contains. Using Novel Writer Pro’s sophisticated 3D plot engine, I had only to plug in benchmark events, the beginning, middle, and end of my novel. The software took care of the rest.

This is where my experience as a novelist came in handy. At each juncture in my book the software offered variations on a theme. I had to decide which to include in my novel. Attack by roving band of cannibals? Sure. Attack by roving band of insane clowns? Absolutely not! An amateur might not see the difference.

And how can I forget the special features?

After helping me write my novel, the fun didn’t end. Novel Writer Pro cares about what happens after the book is published, too. It asked, would I like to make the Times bestseller list? (Yes.) Would I like to win a prize? (Yes!) Would I like to go on Oprah? (Oh, Yes!!!)

The hints Novel Writer Pro gave me in response to these answers were invaluable to The Road’s success. I bet you thought it was me who decided to keep my characters nameless? Nope. That was Novel Writer Pro. I called them Marty and Tim.

Adam Lefton lives in New York. His work has appeared on McSweeney's Internet Tendency and Pindeldyboz.