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143 of 150 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2008
Format: Spiral-boundVerified Purchase
I've been waiting for this book to be published for the last couple of months. And I was so excited to finally get it in the mail yesterday.
The actual product is even better than what I expected. I have looked at Victoria Schmidts other books and Story Structure Architect was interesting but too complicated for me.
This book is a workbook. You write in it - but its not one of those complicated workbooks that make you write backline and huge character outlines and then piece them all together later. Instead it walks you through the process of writing a novel on a daily basis. It's not a book about writing - its a book for writing. As Schmidt says in the intro "You cannot read a book on writing and then poof become an author (though books are great guides)No you must experience the act of writing to be an author...the only way you can do this is to write, from beginning to end a story. And then do it again and again. Then you will have the experience. Then you will be an author."
What differs this book from other book in a month style books is the structure. Its easy to follow, the daily tasks are manageable, it follows the classic 3 act structure. It's basically a template for writing the book you want to write. Plus it has online support if you want to be part of a community.
Writers Digest did a GREAT job in the layout and design of the book so you can write directly in it and it has a ring binder so you can lay it flat while writing.
I wanted a book to jump start my writing again as I have been out of practice. This is exactly what I needed. I know I will buy a new copy each time I write a book.
I used to buy screenwriting books to study story structure. Finally thankfully books on the craft of novel writing are focusing more on story structure too. This does not take away from the creative process but rather provides a strong framework for you to unleash your creativity.
So if you want to write a novel, buy the book, get your [...] in a chair, pick up a pen and use the book everyday for a month...you'll have a novel.
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147 of 161 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2008
Format: Spiral-bound
Well, I got this book 3 weeks ago because I was finally going to bite the bullet and power through writing a book and I needed the tight deadline and accompanying rigid discipline something like this demands.

My first impression: It's fantastic, exciting, and exactly what I was looking for. The book and it's author Schmidt give quite a lot of inspiration with an angle only a book like this can have. Really, all writer-motivating books promise some sort of personal fulfillment through writing, but this is the first one I've read that puts that goal solidly within reach (30 days out). Plus, the book is meant to be a structuring guide through the process, with places to note things like subplot ideas, character sketches, story outline as well as day-by-day exercises meant to take you closer to your goal.

The difference between this BIAM and the NANOWRIMO one is that it's intended to give you something incredibly solid and usable by the end. Baty's NANO is more about an explosion of creative productivity and this one is about ordering chaos. Both lead you to a "book" in 30 days. Schmidt's makes sure your book has a solid 3 act structure that adheres to the most successful conventions of storytelling.

Why only 3 stars? Well, I'm now on day three and I haven't been able to force myself through one page of the workbook section. I read the inspirational lead in (about 64 pages), got caught up in the NANOWRIMO excitement, and now I can't stop writing long enough to follow the exercises and fill in the blanks in the book. It frankly scares me too much with it's structure and guidelines. I don't want to direct my novel-writing energy to filling out its worksheets and answering its questions.

But I can say that if I DID, I know it would improve my work and seriously help. Also, if I was having a hard time keeping track of all my ideas or focusing them into a narrative arc, this book would solve that easily.

I think this would be much better for a person's second attempt at a 30-day novel. But seriously worth the money for the inspirational intro, and the possibility of using this as a rewrite guide when i'm done (one of its intended uses).

______________________
Update:
I gave the system a more concerted effort last november, and was able to get halfway through week 2 before noting another problem (and a great benefit): I was so focused on completing the worksheets and assignments that I neglected to actually write. At one point, after slogging through a particularly long set of worksheets, I proudly turned to the next day and hit something like: "By now you should be halfway to your wordcount goal." No. In fact, I had just spent all my free time doing the busy work and NOT writing! At this point I closed the book, took a deep breath and put it away (for good). My fault, but I felt weirdly sucker-punched.

On the plus side, I got a nice outline with rough character sketches, ten scene sketches, and complete story arc out of it. But no finished novel.
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2008
Format: Spiral-bound
I got this book on almost a whim because I was struggling to get to the first 100 pages of my project. I was surprised to find that it motivated me and made me see some things I didn't see.

What I like about it: It really did get me out of eeking out a few hundred words and into writing much more. One of the most eye opening things was that I didn't need to do the first draft with subplots and could work them in later. I also liked the outline format because it didn't go a standard outline route that's always hung me up in the past.

What I didn't like: Some things weren't explained and left me confused. Someone else mentioned setting, but I also wanted to see an explanation of a temporary triumph.

I'm having a hard time understanding why the author didn't put the forms up on her Web site to be downloaded for reuse. Instead, we're told to buy another version of the book just to create a second project. At $22, that's expensive for a set of forms--and small forms at that.

It's a good book to use if you want to learn how to write faster, but expect to be confused by some one of the questions.
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2008
Format: Spiral-bound
Book in a Month is a very useful tool for writing a book in a short period of time. The format is excellent and, if you have trouble pacing yourself or even knowing where to start, this book will provide short activities for each day of the month to help keep you focused and on target. The activities she provides helps fool you out of any resistance or writer's block you may be having.

My only reservation about the book is that some of the questions Schmidt uses in some of her activities use terms that are not defined elsewhere in the book. For example, on Day 3 the prescribed exercise is to create an outline. In the questionnaire portion of the exercise she asks the writer to describe the "setup" but does not define the term. I suppose if you've purchased many other writing books or some of Schmidt's previous books, you may be able to use those as references to figure it out. This is irritating but does not diminish the usefulness of the book overall.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2009
Format: Spiral-bound
I bought this book a year ago, and like a few other reviewers, never put pen to paper.

This year I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month. [...] And I knew I needed something concrete to get me going.

I spent 6 days brainstorming on story ideas, characters, etc. And I used other books to help me refine my ideas. But BIAM got me to (finally) put pen to paper.

This book is a resource; pick the forms that appeal to you. I struggled with filling the forms and I cycled through them many times, and my story is better because of it. I also converted the forms into spreadsheets and enlarged the writing areas.

BIAM is a great tool to layout your story. I urge buyers to try the worksheets. Other reviewers have mentioned the positive tone of the book, but the meat is in the worksheets. That's where you will get your money's worth.

Want details?
1. I am aiming for 50,000 words (November 1-30, 2009) for NaNoWriMo. I have written 20 pages during my 6 day brainstorming session, which I used to fill in the BIAM forms.
2. I have a major character (of course), plus 3 supporting characters, and many more minor characters.
3. There are 18 forms in BIAM's Week 1, which is 22 pages laid out in my spreadsheets.
4. I used the Character Snapshot and Character-Revealing Scenes forms for 4 characters: Major and 3 supporting.
5. And I used the Character Snapshot form for many of my minor characters because I was worried they would feel and act fake.
6. My form tally is: 18 + 6 (supporting) + 5 (minor) = 29 forms.
7. I have 45 pages of completed forms. I've gone through each form several times changing and refining details.

This book is currently priced at $[...] (reg. $[...]). If someone offered you 45 pages of details for a novel, would you pay $[...]?

I got my money's worth during in Week 1. Please try the book.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2008
Format: Spiral-boundVerified Purchase
This unique book makes writing fun. As you can see with the "Search Inside" feature, there are around 50 worksheets to fill out on all the details of your novel. If you fill in the blanks, you're guaranteed to have an outline for a fleshed-out, compelling story. The book is also very inspirational, with tips on how to avoid resistance (psychological reasons for why we might allow ourselves to procrastinate) and asking you to really think about why accomplishing your goal of writing a novel is important to you. And for some reason, just the act of writing into the actual book with my story details made the project seem more serious and provides a great place to jot down every detail. With all that said, this is an excellent book for any writing project, even if you don't plan to write it in 30 days, but it's even more exciting if you do decided to go for it. Good luck!
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2008
Format: Spiral-bound
This isn't the first how-to write a novel book I've purchased. My first how-to was THE MARSHALL PLAN FOR NOVEL WRITING: A 16-STEP PROGRAM GUARANTEED TO TAKE YOU FROM IDEA TO COMPLETE MANUSCRIPT. I made it all the way to the section sheets and stopped. I had no clue how to do those. At the time, I was really big into Yahoo Groups and had signed up for a mess load of writer's groups. I talked someone into starting a writing group for writers using this method. To my amazement, he did. They all got to the section sheets and guess what? You got it, I wasn't the only person totally confused. Like the insane person I am, I purchased the workbook hoping to get clarity. It never came.

Was it a waste of money? No, because I walked a way with more knowledge than before and to be fair, I understand more about the section sheets now.

There's more...

About the same time, I'd purchased FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS: A NOVEL WRITER'S SYSTEM FOR BUILDING A COMPLETE AND COHESIVE MANUSCRIPT by Karen Wiesner. A novel in 30 days, a 1st draft in 30 days, and a 16 step program to a complete novel - great book.

So when I talk about BOOK IN A MONTH, I have the two others to compare it to. My only complaint is it's small. For those of you who carry such things around with you, this might be just the ticket. I don't and I don't write small either. The pages are 5-1/2 inches wide, making this very compact for travel. I don't travel. So if I had one wish, it would be a super-size model.

The book combines psychology with the mechanics of how to organize a novel from start to finish. This is by far the best on the market I've seen.

As a side note, it was helpful for me to also purchase "Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time" by Jordan Rosenfeld as well. I was able to get more out of the book that way.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2008
Format: Spiral-bound
Who wouldn't want to write a book in a month? My first novel manuscript took over a year for the first draft, so this workbook was appealing just for the timeframe. But BIAM also drew me in for the focus on structure and organization. I gave it the Read-Til-I-Drop-Or-Buy test. It seemed just what I was looking for... BIAM delivers on it's promise to provide a schedule and worksheets to organize myself. Everything fits in one place. I like the spiral binding. The stickers are cute if not completely useful. The motivational discussion at the front is spot-on. However, BIAM slips in the connection between story structure outlining and the actual writing. I find I want more discussion and examples of how story structure works... Act I Turning Point, Act II temporary triumph and reversal. You won't find the depth here you might need on these concepts (the author has other books for that!). Still, I'm trying to follow her advice to write "as if" I had everything figured out and trust I'll understand Act II and III structure better when I get there. BIAM would have earned my fifth star had it simplified the story structure outline worksheets, gone into more depth on the concepts, or put the Act II and III outlining later in the course. If you are well-versed in story structure concepts, BIAM will be a great tool to keep you organized.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2009
Format: Spiral-boundVerified Purchase
This book was so helpful for me! I had been working on a manuscript for over 2 years and was stuck on where to go with my plot, how to structure my plot and characters, keeping on task, and simply staying motivated. This book was so helpful in giving me a structured plan to follow. And while some of the exercises are tedious at times, for the most part, everything that was done was purposeful and helpful. And I loved that it was a spiral bound book so I could have it open, flip pages, and write without any hassle (I know, seems like a strange thing, but that sold me on it). I would recommend this for any writer whose hit a snag or needs a little extra help.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2008
Format: Spiral-bound
If you love well-planned writing and filling out worksheets to mark progress in your work, you'll probably like this book
I feel that this book is the best of Schmidt's works on creative writing. The reason I would say such a thing is that her system, the workbook/notebook approach, helps organize each book-writing project into a single place. There is a large sticker to be labeled and placed on the spine to indicate the project's name. There are also many other stickers with symbolic and perhaps sentimental value. Schmidt uses many worksheets (about 5 per day) to foprce the writer into making productive use of the 2-3 hours of daily writing time (or whatever amount of time that you choose). I don't recommend it to avsolute beginners because the worksheet method is very laborious and can become daunting unless it is maintained. Experienced writiers may notice that this is a book filled with worksheets all of which are available for free on the author's website. In addition, an experienced writer may be able to just use a lined notebook to keep track of characters, plot, outines and so forth. Well, I am not what I would call an experienced novelist (like, say, Nora Roberts, Stephen King or any number of writers of pulp fiction). My conclusion about this book is that it is the best I have ever seen from this publisher (Writer's Digest) and is a great introduction to the author and her other, well-written works on creative writing. It is expensive and she does expect the reader to buy a new book for each new novel/book project, but I would gladly buy several copies of this work and use its method over and over again. Once you master the system, you can do most of the things on scraps of paper, a notebook, or even a computer file.

To compare this to Nanowrimo is to be unfair to Dr. Schmidt. She sets out to provide a way to produce a usable book-length work in thirty days or more, while the Nanowrimo folks focus on encouragement, self-esteem and fast-production of story ideas. I still prefer schmidt.
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