Okay, so maybe I didn’t think this through. No, I don’t suggest you murder anyone. (*cough* Akshaya *cough* who thought this was exactly what I meant, and was like, shrug, makes sense). Nor do I agree with the reason for making a Horcrux (to gain immortality). Let’s not be narcissistic here. Unless… that happens to be one of your goals for novel writing – then who am I to judge? More power to you!
What I mean by how to make your book into a Horcrux is…
How to put a piece of your soul into your book, or less dramatically, how to put yourself into your work…
To make it powerful…
To make it mean something to you, and in turn, mean something to other people.
In David Corbett’s The Art of Character, he addresses the writer, saying:
“…learning how to plumb emotionally significant events in your own life…” helps you “better [sic] understand and engage with your characters (34).”
That’s not to say you must use an actual event in your life (though you can). Think about what events/feelings/truths in your life – past or present – matter to you. Bring those feelings into your writing.
My first book I ever wrote was set in a hospital because I spent a lot of time in hospitals as a child (my older brother had a childhood illness). My second book, REBEL SEOUL, is set in a futuristic Korea and has very distinctive Korean elements. I wrote it after graduating from college, where I majored in Korean history. My third book is about chasing your dreams because at that time I was pursuing something I really wanted, namely a graduate degree. My fourth book, the companion novel to REBEL SEOUL, is about exorcising (figurative) ghosts because that’s something I’ve been thinking about lately.
Let me put this question to you. Why does it matter for you to write this book now? The answer to this question is the piece of your soul. Once you are personally invested, the book becomes something you need to finish, to honor with revisions and insight and passion because it’s a part of you– it’s your soul, after all. You must protect it — but also, readers, sensing your vulnerability, will be drawn to the story more so because it means a lot to you.
Here’s another question: What scene is the piece of your soul in the book?
What scene means so much to you that you would write an entire book just to get to that one scene? In my third book, I have a scene where my heroine jumps off a boat to save her brother. Of course in reality, I’ve never jumped off a boat in a storm. But when I wrote that scene—I felt deeply the heroine’s feelings. To save her brother, she would make that leap. I think I would too. What moves your heart? What moves your soul? Even better than one scene, I think it’s better to have multiple soul-scenes in your book. Make a list. What are the soul-scenes in your book?
Lastly, keep in mind who you’re writing your book for.
As William Zinsser says in On Writing Well:
If you consciously write for a teacher or for an editor, you’ll end up not writing for anybody. If you write for yourself, you’ll reach the people you want to write for (134).
Write for yourself. Be vulnerable. Write deeply. And have fun.