My Favorite Mistake

Newsweek, September 26, 2011 | Go to article overview

My Favorite Mistake


Nicholas Sparks on failing to finish a novel.

My favorite mistake is when I start a novel before I'm ready to write the novel. It's happened a couple of times in my career. After I wrote Message in a Bottle, I started a book called The Best Man. I thought I had most of the story in my mind, and I got two thirds of the way through. It was only then that I realized I shouldn't have started it at all. Last year I had a novel that ended up in the catalog for Grand Central Publishing called Saying Good-Bye. It was never published.

Saying Good-Bye was the story about three people, two women and a man. Years earlier the women had gone to Italy when they were in college, and one of the women had fallen in love with this Italian guy. Twenty years pass, and her friend is dying. She wants to throw her own funeral to say goodbye. She invites her best friend, and unbeknownst to this girlfriend, she's kept in touch with the Italian guy. The problem is her best friend is in an unhappy marriage. It was all working well, but I couldn't come up with an ending. I couldn't think of something that these people could do for this dying woman that would mean a lot to her, because everybody's dying wish is different. …

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