Writing a novel is like writing a computer program. The goal of this program is to create an output (the actual words of the book) of a certain nature (the theme of the book). But to generate it, you fiddle with the functions/methods within the program (characters), the order in which you call them up, and the parameters you assign them (plot, conflict, setting). The source code requires less memory than the output. It’s algorithmic, generative. And when written well, it can lead to an end result that’s wonderfully complex, that takes on a life of its own.
An update from Jack Cheng
about his experience of writing his first novel, These Days
. I suspect it will be wonderful, but that really won’t matter because it’s been worth it just to follow along with him in the process.