36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2008
This is a great book on the craft of writing. I believe it is, however, a previously published book under the title "Lessons of a Lifetime of Writing" by David Morrell. For those who have read that book, this is a duplication.
For those who have not already read this book, do yourself a favor and buy it. The reviews under the previous title are excellent and informative.
David is a unique person to share his experience. A former college professor, he knows how to teach. As a brilliant novelist, he knows how to tell stories that entertain. This book accomplishes both of those goals.
I've read many books on writing and, in my opinion, this one ranks up there with Stephen King's "On Writing and the books by Noah Lukeman. This book will certainly compliment any writer's collection of informative books. More than that, the stories that David shares are extremely interesting and entertaining. As I read them, I could vividly imagine myself going through them with my works and one day, aided by David's sage advice, I'm sure I shall.
If you've not already purchased this book under the previous title. Buy it now!
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2008
I purchased the "Successful Novelist". In short: a great book. I also purchased another book from the same author David Morrell. This book is "Lessons From a Lifetime of Writing" and guess what: it is exactly the same book as "Successful Novelist", but for the title.
Amazon has decided to provide a full refund including the shipment costs. Thank you Amazon.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
An instructional writing book...by an actual successful novelist. While David Morrell may be best-known for writing "First Blood" and the subsequent Rambo novelizations, "The Successful Novelist" puts him on the map as a world-class professor of writing as he turns the edict "Those who can't do, teach" on its head. He used to teach in the University of Iowa English Department that was located below the Iowa Writer's Workshop offices. However, his instruction here is contrary to that of most college creative writing workshops, in that he adresses writers of all genres (not just "literary" writers). For that reason, this book will be of particular interest to thriller, science fiction, horror, and other genre writers looking for instruction outside of the university structure.
"The Successful Novelist" is an update edition of Morrell's first writing book, Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing: A Novelist Looks at His Craft with an added chapter on marketing. If you enjoy "The Successful Novelist," you should also check out Stephen King's On Writing and Strunk and White's The Elements of Style to round out your writing "home study" course.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2013
This book is proof that that the statement "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach," is a lie.
Morrell has written many successful books, and the insights that he shares in this book are well worth the time.
I highly recommend getting this book in the Kindle version where you can highlight and search the book for phrases because you're going to want to go back and read it several times, over a period of time. You may find yourself in a checkout counter at a supermarket, whipping out your phone and pulling up your Kindle app.
The book is written in a conversational tone, so it sounds like you're in the room with Morrell. Example: "Eventually, I connect the dots and discover that I have not only a plot but also characters whose issues are important to me; in other words, a theme."
There's a thorough discussion of plot, character experience and conflict. There a quotes from other authors who have written good books on writing. There are examples taken from his books, and there are tidbit tips like "When editing your fiction, be on the lookout for scenes interrupted by a sudden string of verbs including "had." Another example is "Pay attention to that flashback because often it is the opening scene that your story wants to have..."
The Kindle version of the book was $7.99 when I bought it. It was well worth the money.
I would have rated this book a five, but it is, unfortunately, filled with typos. They're the kind of typo that comes from a lat minute search and replace editing. Things like,"cars.That" (Page 187), "drivers.They" (Page 188) and "detectors.The" (Page 191). I know the cause of these types of errors--a search and replace for a period followed by two spaces with a period followed by one space was probably the intention, but it's a search-and-replace with no space after the period that was entered. Still, it's distracting, especially in a book on writing. The good news is that these, and other copy edits can be fixed in the Kindle book edition, and they probably only appear in that edition.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2009
Beautifully written. Almost reads like one of Mr. Morrell's terrific action novels.
Read First Blood way back in l978 and couldn't put the damn book down--and I don't really care for most action novels, by that I mean James M. Cain's Double Indemnity and Postman... are masterpieces...but how many of those are there out there? Not many.
The only quibble I have is this: the advice to hit the reader hard from the get go. I don't need to be "bludgeoned" by the writer from the very beginning.
Interesting openings are just fine, so long as they are plausible, but when
there is something like a killing or knifing, you name it, some disaster, I get the feeling that the scribe is not only insecure, but a certified hack.
Westlake comes to mind, Steele comes to mind--and so many others.
To see what I'm talking about pick up a paperback next time you visit your supermarket, open it to the first page...the scene may be about someone trapped in a plane that's about to crash, or someone getting blasted, or someone in a car rolling down a mountain... This is the kind of idiocy that I do my best to avoid.
Great novels don't open with a tricked-up action sequence; they don't have to--and the great writers know this.
just take a look at the first page of A Confederacy of Dunces or Knut Hamsun's Hunger, Celine's Journey to the End of the Night, or even Bukowski's Ham On Rye. Better still, pick up Edward Bunker's No Beast So fierce, one of the great crime novels, and see how it begins. The guy is in his cell, about to be released, shining his shoes. Get it?
I hate fast openings. Always have.
Don't insult your reader's intelligence with a moronic action sequence.
Drama need not always have "action" in it.
Other than that, David Morrell's book on writing is truly one of the finest.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
David Morrell opens The Successful Novelist with the most important question a writer will ever answer. "Why Do You Want to be a Writer?" He pushes the reader to go deep into his/her emotional state to answer the question. The rest of the book is filled with examples from Morrell's life that illustrate the importance of knowing the emotional reason a writer writes. Interweaved is practical writing advice and look inside the mind of the man who created Rambo. The Successful Novelist also delves into the writing world, the publishing industry, and the movie industry. Whether you've just written your first novel or your thirtieth novel, you're likely to find something inspiring, informative, and entertaining in the pages of The Successful Novelist.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2011
My favorite 'stories from the trenches' book has always been Simon Callow's BEING AN ACTOR...this is a very close second and far surpasses other writing books like Mamet's, Bradbury's and King's. Told honestly and rather generously, this is a truly wonderful book for anyone who has ever considered becoming a writer.
on October 20, 2014
One of the best books on the writing life I've read. The author treats fiction writing as 1/3 art, 1/3 craft, and 1/3 hard work. It offers practical advice, but is not a clonish book marketing book. It probably offers the best one sentence I've read about how to decide whether to pursue the fiction writer's life, because fame, fortune, and the love of women or men doesn't enter the equation. It's simply the following: 'Decide to pursue serious novel writing only if you HAVE to.' I agree. It's the one thing that keeps me 'going' in this ineluctable, lonely pursuit. Another gem I found here was that if you are a novelist or other type of creative writer, and you're at party, being asked, 'What do you do?', DON'T say you're a writer. If you are one, you probably know why. If you aren't one, and meet one, please just say, "That's interesting" and leave it at that. Do not ask 'Where do you get your ideas?" Do not say, "I have a great idea for a novel" and do not ask, "What have you written?"
I don't like Morrell's fiction, but I truly enjoyed this book.
on September 30, 2012
I read this book with great interest and found David Morrell's, "The Successful Novelist: A Lifetime of Lessons About Writing and Publishing" to be a great asset in my writing. From organizing your notes to the actually writing part (the hardest thing to do), I took away many lessons. I also enjoyed seeing how Mr. Morrell structured his daily writing, going after a certain number of words day-in and day-out. This book is a fine addition to the other writing books in my repertoire. Of course, I'm a fan of David Morrell's work, so my enjoying his insight was not surprising!
on April 12, 2015
There's a lot of books out there by solid writers, and, strangely to me, agents.
But like King, here is the real deal who has generously shared 50+ years of writing wisdom. This book is like a master class in becoming a novelist.
It's also hilarious: "What's your high concept?"
"Uh, it's called 'Moby Dick', it's about a one-legged captain chasing a white whale--"
Agent returns to his cocaine, "What?! That sounds stupid!" SNORT.