47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2010
I find one of the fearsome tasks in writing a novel to be managing the amount of information and number of tasks it takes to finish. Morris's steps (with several concrete suggestions for implementing) keep my eyes on the ground so I can I take action (do some writing).
The tactics she suggests are drawn from creative endeavors besides writing, which makes them useful to people with different processes for writing--you can adapt the exercise whether you work first on plot or character, outline or full draft.
Although the book is easy to read, I've been moving slowly through it since each section has gotten me generating more ideas about my current project.
75 of 82 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2010
I am an aspiring writer who lacks the confidence to push to the end with my stories.
Not long ago, I took this book as company on a long train journey to Sheffield. I was going to visit a friend who is also an aspiring writer. By the time I got up there I had read it twice and felt compelled, out of friendship, to give him my copy immediately upon my arrival. So, dammit, I will have to buy another one.
We spent the weekend playing `the card game' for a co-authoring project. It may come to nought, but it was lovely to feel the buzz again, all the same. I am enjoying writing again, and I have improved a great deal as a result of this book.
I have just checked; I have 14 How To Write Books. Many are the 'must have' books that you are led to understand anyone who wants to write should have. This book is in the top three.
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2012
I decided to read Ms. Morris' book to help revive a stack of old books and stories I never finished writing. The pile is rather large, and I hoped that the book would give me the tools I needed to finish and publish them. Sadly, it didn't work for me. I believe that the target audience for her book is writers who have one or two manuscripts in rough form that need a nudge to get them done. It's not for those whose writings are so fly-by-the-seat-of-one's-pants or deeply muddled that they need a serious spring cleaning -- not fine tuning. There's a group of would-be writers who may need to read more basic books on writing techniques in order to learn how to write synopses and plot scenes. Her book does not delve deeply into these writing techniques.
To her credit, the author gives readers a potpourri of good suggestions on how to break writer's block and improve a novel. She offers some excellent recommendations with easy-to-remember buzzwords like "outtakes," "block busters," and "beat sheets." For writers stuck in the middle of their novel who need inspiration, these are great tools to push it from draft to publication. The ending wraps up with a toolbox full of ideas on how to do this and ends with a chapter on preparing the manuscript to send to a publisher.
I recommend this book for experienced writers with a basic knowledge of writing who want additional writing tips. For those further along in their careers, it could be an indispensable resource. But this book isn't for every aspiring writer. For those literally dusting off that decades-old manuscript in a drawer needing extensive rework before it sees light of day, they may be better off starting with a basic "how-to" manual.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2011
Having a vast collection of "How To Write a Book" books, I can say with some certainty that this is one of the few that ACTUALLY tells you how to write a book, that breaks down the nuts and bolts of what goes into constructing a novel, how to use it to create your own story and how to get back on track when you wander off of it. Other books of its kind are great at telling you what you need to do and what happens once it's done, but they leave out the crucial steps in the middle. I found Nail Your Novel most useful in terms of plotting, surely the thorniest problem of all and the one I feel most neglected by other guides. Yes, you have a beginning, an end and a cast of characters, but how exactly do you get from start to finish? What happens in the middle? Nail Your Novel answers that question for you. Its practical advice is invaluable and the book is so well explained and laid out that you'll end up returning to it again and again. A necessary edition to any writer's reference shelf.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2011
Novelist, ghost writer, and professional critiquer Roz Morris's Nail Your Novel is wonderful guide to the bones of writing a novel. A "writing buddy in a book," this 122-page pdf pares down the basics of crafting a lengthy piece of fiction and presents a helpful methodology that dispenses with the often hazy, daunting journey from story conception to finished product.
In a no-nonsense, cut-to-the-chase set of "tasks," Morris offers her own regimented technique for building a novel from the ground up. Although her intensive, detail-oriented process won't be a good fit for everyone, it's an excellent place for young writers to start. She walks writers through the basics, beginning with nurturing ideas into usable premises and following the process all the way to the light at the end of the tunnel: selling a completed manuscript to a publisher.
In many respects, Morris's process is very similar to my own, so I found myself nodding my head vigorously over many of her points. Her discussion of outlining, in particular, overflowed with excellent advice, including tips for organizing scenes and filling in the blanks. Her inclusion of "thumb notes," which pause to describe integral pieces of the story-telling puzzle--including character and plot, genre, and scene structure--are an excellent primer for often misunderstood areas of fiction.
As a guide for young novelists who are still trying to figure out just how to get a book written, Nail Your Novel is an excellent resource. For those who already know what they're doing, this fascinating glimpse into the successful process of another author is sure to offer some excellent gems for fine-tuning already established techniques.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2011
Here's the trouble with books on writing; you read them instead of writing your novel. Nail Your Novel is different. It's designed to sit beside you on your desk and nudge you through the writing. Laid out as a series of tasks, it tells you how to split the huge job of writing a novel into manageable chunks - organising ideas, testing your plot, writing the first draft, assessing it afterwards. For such a small book it's a powerhouse - the advice you need, when you need it. Other books will go into detail about deepening characters or tying up your plot ends or prettifying your language. But no other book will helps you draw all that together and get to the end. A life-saver.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2011
After reading a dozen other books on writing, Roz's system resonates with me like none of the others. It does not presume to teach you the mechanics of writing (which you would have learned in college, by experience, or in specialized texts regarding dialogue, character development, etc.). Instead if gives advice and encouragement, and helps you stay focused as you progress through well-defined stages of writing your novel.
If I'd had this book a year ago, Roz's method of focused editing would have saved me from eight futile re-writes. I messaged her blog after reading her book and asked what I should do since my novel is already written but has been edited beyond recognition through a critique group, and what do you know? She responded with concrete steps to help me fix my book!
I've gone from despair to hope. If you too have lost your voice through a critique group, read her advice here(...)
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2011
I went through the book mostly skimming. The information presented was pretty good and for someone who hasn't read anything on getting past the road blocks to actually finishing a book this does the job. Personally I preferred 'first draft in 30 days' by Karen Wiesner.
I guess I prefer my books to come with examples in the appendix with doesn't exist in this book. A sample of one of the beat sheets the author describes would have been nice.
Anyway, this was a very good book with lots of information included which can help many potential authors. Since I had read most of this elsewhere it wasn't new to me but that doesn't detract from the good information that was in it. I gave it four stars because many of the other books I've read that give worksheet suggestions for writers to use usually follow up in the appendix with an example copy and this book didn't do that.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2010
Nail Your Novel is a clear, concise novel-writing manual. It gives a step-by-step guide to the writing process, from the planning stages through to final revisions and sending your completed manuscript out to potential agents and publishers. Along the way the book describes a number of strategies that professionals employ to help them on their way. It leads prospective authors from the basics of writing plans and synopses, to self-motivation, through to ways to keep writing when your creative muse has taken an inconvenient break, all set out in an easily-accessible style. I thoroughly recommend it!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I have had the privilege of interviewing and chatting with author Roz Morris about her experience and advice in completing a novel (whether you're a beginner or more experienced writer). Roz is a teacher at heart and her book exemplifies her ability to clearly "show and tell" writers what they need to know to break down the aspects to their book.
Roz encourages the writer to use the creative mind and the analytical mind where it's needed--when creating a work vs. when it's time to edit--and (gasp!)tear the story apart and put it back together. She takes away the fear of making mistakes or moving things around or taking out characters or scenes and weaving together the plot threads.
Roz has extensive experience as a literary critic, adviser and ghostwriter, so she's met and worked with many authors. She confidently shares the truth that many (perhaps almost all?) authors fear they'll wreck the story and it'll never work. But offers the insight of a book doctor, that everything can turn out OK, and will in the end.
I wish I had this book a long time ago. I'm comfortable with writing non-fiction, but fiction...is another story. Reading Roz' book, I felt a flicker of excitement building, that "Yeah. I might be able to tackle a story and do it well after all!"
This book is a quick read, well organized and clearly written, with exercises and encouragement so you will get your story where it needs to be before publishing or sending it out.
(Disclosure: Roz Morris provided me with a review copy of her book.)