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The 90-Day Novel: Unlock the story within Paperback – October 10, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0983141204 ISBN-10: 0983141207 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: The 90-Day Novel Press; 2 edition (October 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983141207
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983141204
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Alan Watt's The 90-Day Novel is a treasure trove of insight, not only for beginners or aspiring writers but for grizzled old-timers like myself who can profit, always, from revisiting the fundamentals and first principles of the writer's calling. Two thumbs up!"
Steven Pressfield (bestselling author of The War of Art and Do The Work)

"I went $64,000 in debt for my MFA in fiction writing. After reading The 90-Day Novel I wonder why. This book will provide you with the tools missing from most writing programs."
Frank B. Wilderson III (Winner, 2008 American Book Award)

''For years I have been fascinated by the industry legend of how Alan Watt wrote his masterful novel Diamond Dogs in 90 days. Now, at last, he shares his secrets. The 90-Day Novel is smart, insightful, thorough and wise. It's also one of the best books on novel-writing I have ever seen. I feel confident that anyone who takes this program seriously will have a solid manuscript to show for the effort.''
David Liss (Edgar Award winner for his bestselling novel A Conspiracy of Paper)

''The idea of bringing a first draft of a novel to fruition seemed too daunting and overwhelming to even consider until I applied the principles in The 90-day Novel. Al Watt's methodology is deep and precise, and helps unearth unconscious themes and characters in you that let the story almost tell itself.''
Rebecca De Mornay(actress/writer)

"Every writer of fiction or nonfiction should read this book."
Ally Bishop (Hippocampus Magazine)

From the Inside Flap

"The 90-Day Novel is the real deal. Watt gets down to it by brilliantly articulating the fusion of the muse to the rigor of story structure. If you've been struggling with your story, or really want to get dangerous on the page, read this book. Follow it and you will have a first draft in 90 days."
- Eric Miles Williamson (PEN Finalist for his novel East Bay Grease, and author of Welcome to Oakland)
"The 90-Day Novel provides the inspiration, focus and structure that every novelist needs to finally put down on paper what has been alive in him, perhaps for years, struggling to get out.
- Allison Burnett (author of Christopher, The House Beautiful and Death By Sunshine)
"Al is a skilled and adventuresome navigator, helping me explore what lies uniquely within my subconscious. Al sends out the perfect signals to help you get to the end of your novel."
- Donna Powers (screenwriter of The Italian Job)
"The 90-Day Novel is the most fun and exhilarating feeling I have ever experienced, like falling in love. Really, I never had this feeling before, not at Harvard, not getting my book published, I don't even know how to put it into words. Al Watt is the best teacher I have ever had. He creates a space that is so nurturing, I want to get it wrong, because now I know I'll be able to get it right. Thank you so much Al, for sharing what you know and your experience with me."
- Maureen O'Crean (I Am Diva: Every Woman's Guide to Outrageous Living)
"I met Al Watt midway through a furious deadline for my first book. It had been commissioned by Random House, but frankly, I was terrified I was going to fail, from lack of experience, knowledge of novel structure, and those other private demons that prevent us from finishing (or sometimes starting) making art. Thank God for Al. I feared it would be a gung-ho course where I would be bullied into adopting certain rules. It was quite the opposite; a place where I could go and learn to trust my deepest subconscious to come up with the goods. I delivered the book on time, it is selling well, CAA has picked it up. None of this would have happened with such speed and ease without Al. Take the course!"
- Lucinda Clare (bestselling author of An English Psychic in Hollywood)

Customer Reviews

If you want to write a first draft in 90 days, I suggest you get this book.
It really pushes you to go beyond what you think the story is, and look into big themes like redemption or loss.
Watt gives the reader a workshop complete with exercises to inspire writing and desist writer's block.
Jaelyn Linski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

141 of 151 people found the following review helpful By An L.A. Reader on October 11, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
Can you write a novel in 90 days? Yes. And it will be a surprisingly good novel if you follow the precepts in Al Watt's method.

I was student of Al's in one of his well-known L.A. 90 day workshops. I came in with only a vague idea of what I wanted to accomplish. 90 days later I had a complete manuscript - one of the best stories I have written. Several of his students have gone on to publish work they produced using Al's method, which is fully laid out in this book.

Unlike other novel-writing books which concentrate on a mechanistic approach to structure, The 90-Day Novel puts its emphasis on getting -- and staying -- in touch with your story at the deepest subconscious level. Everything that's going on in your life becomes grist for the mill of the story. For the first 30 days, a series of exercises takes you through discovering (not creating) your character's wants and needs -- the wants and needs that propel him or her through an organically emerging story structure.

Gradually, you find your story coming into focus, with a beginning, middle and end seemingly emerging from nowhere. The excitement of these discoveries sustains the next 60 days of work -- where you bang out a first draft that puts texture on the bare bones of your character's journey.

Really unlike anything else out there. Al is an accomplished, award-winning novelist and screenwriter who has been through this process and knows how to coach you through your doubts and dilemmas.

Can't recommend enough.
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227 of 252 people found the following review helpful By G.C. on June 15, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book based on the overwhelmingly positive reviews. I have to say, based on what I expected, I'm a bit disappointed.

This book is great in terms of presenting some really thought-provoking ideas about writing a novel. I thought that the discussion of dilemma and conflict was interesting, and the overview of novel structure and structure questions were also very helpful.

However, as far as a guided workshop-in-a-book, I feel like this book failed. In his attempt to provide a tidbit of information each day, useful information was awkwardly broken up that might have been better organized into more solid chapters. The overall process felt a bit loosey-goosey, with constant reminders to "hold it all loosely" and not to lock yourself in. Honestly, I felt myself getting bored with the pre-writing exercises and just skipping around and reading the book to glean what useful tidbits I could, and coming up with my own process to complete my draft.

I also thought it was a bit strange that you're urged within the book to read Watt's novel, Diamond Dogs, which is used to illustrate many of the points made within this book. That along with the dozens of 5-star reviews from Amazon members without much in the way of a reviewer history leaves me feeling a bit taken.
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90 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Amy Hughes on April 12, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I eagerly did the first few exercises in this book until it began to look like we weren't going to advance beyond elementary overcome-your-fear, flesh-out-your-characters kind of advice you get in every single one of these types of books. Then I just read the rest and didn't bother with the writing exercises. It was a fast read...because there isn't much here. Perhaps someone will gather all these exercises and write them in a few pages that will not use up more of your time than they are worth. I would happily pay more for books that are no longer than they need to be!

Two stars instead of one because the discussion of dilemma was actually useful. It should have been a blog article, not a book. You might get more out of this if you consider it a workbook for the author's class, if you are taking it. If you aren't taking it, you don't need this book.

Do yourself a favor and click the "read all my reviews" links for all the reviewers of this book before you accept the hype.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Enid Hawk on October 24, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
The process Al lays out in his 90 day approach will absolutely bring you to a finished first draft of a novel. If you have a story within- or bits and pieces of writings throughout several notebooks, Al's guidance will help you get the WHOLE story on the page. His process teaches you how to teach yourself. I highly recommend this book to every writer and will be buying several copies for the holidays. It is sure-fire sound guidance to help you get to the heart of your desire to write your story. And even better- after reading Al's book, if you have more questions or want more instruction, you can work with the author directly in the interactive group dynamic of the 90-Day Novel he offers in person and over the phone. He is a true mentor and teacher. Highly recommended reading for all writers.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Jenna on November 5, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to write a novel. I spent years laboring under what I thought my story was, and using this method, I wrote a first draft in only 90 days!

There is so much freedom in this method, but the book also teaches much about story structure. Most books on writing I've seen focus on either structure or freewriting - this book combines both, and beautifully.

I am told that he is working on a book called The 90-Day Rewrite also, so we will have additional tools at our disposal soon! I am looking forward to the release of that one!

I've spent a lot of money on books and workshops - thousands of dollars. This book and workshop helped me the most by far. I now know how to deal with my fears and write the book I was supposed to write without dealing with any needless grief.

The subtitle of this book is "Unlock the story within". Trust me, it ain't kidding. The lock doesn't even exist for me anymore.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews

More About the Author

Alan Watt grew up on a strawberry farm in Guelph, Ontario Canada. He became a standup comic in the 1980s and moved to Los Angeles on Jan. 1st '94, just 17 days before the big earthquake. After selling his first novel for an obscene amount of money he quit the road, stayed home and got a girlfriend.

Watt (call him Al) is an L.A. Times best-selling novelist and screenwriter as well as consultant to some of Hollywood's top writers and producers. He has won a number of awards for his writing including France's 2004 Prix Printemps (best foreign novel) for Diamond Dogs.

Mr. Watt first taught a summer screenwriting workshop at UCLA in 1998, and has been teaching and lecturing on the creative process in L.A. and at colleges around the country ever since. He spent three years teaching storytelling to inner city high school students through the non-profit arm of Spoken Interludes.

He founded L.A. Writers' Lab in 2002 as a place for writers to deepen their craft by learning to marry the wildness of their imaginations to the rigor of story structure. He has taught everyone from award-winning authors and A-list screenwriters, to journalists, poets, actors, professional athletes, war veterans, housewives, doctors, lawyers, television showrunners, and anyone else with a story to tell.

In 2010 he created The 90-Day Novel Press to publish books on writing, which includes Amazon's #1 bestselling book on writing, The 90-Day Novel. Mr. Watt is also the founder of Writers Tribe Books, a publisher of literary fiction. And you may, perhaps, recognize him from his three lines as the hotdog vendor in the "Chinese Gum" episode of Seinfeld.