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Book in a Month: The Fool-proof System for Writing a Novel in 30 Days Hardcover-spiral – 2007
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Pre-order today
If you make time to write and put away all of your excuses, could you stay on track and finish your novel in only a month? With a structured plan and a focused goal, yes, you can!
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The book contradicts itself. For example, Day 13 is about enriching your subplots, but Secret #2 to writing a novel in 30 days is to leave out subplots. She admits this is a contradiction and essentially says "do what you want!" That's fine, but it's annoying to be told to not do something, and then to have a day dedicated to that one thing.
I think the first week of the book helps set a stage for your novel. The second and third weeks get sort of boring and bogged-down. I have found that the meat of the first week is what I need the most.
As for the worksheets and physical book, I found the space too small to write in, stickers don't motivate me, and I don't appreciate being told to purchase a copy of this book for every new book I write.
So this one's a mixed bag.
And it's nicely done. Visually, the way it's designed, is terrific. It just FEELS like something you can use over and over.
Okay, specifics: I have never had trouble writing short stories or poems. I always have trouble finishing novels. I haven't. I've started several, have had FOUR editors from three reputable and established publishing houses ask for manuscripts based on my beginnings, and just can't get past the middle to the end. Insane, right?
So, here I am. I'm doing NaNoWriMo 2012 and I am using this. One of the tips alone was so logical--but hadn't occurred to me--that it alone was worth the price of the book. Victoria Lynn Schmidt has a knack for making books that have helpful charts and visual aids. This one surely does. She has put in here all you need to track through a hurried first draft (which is what NaNoWriMo is about, one draft of 50K words in one month). Her tips are perfect for a perfectionist writer in constant "editor mode"--tweaking and adding and tweaking again. Polishing while writing--it slows you down.
What is great is she gives links to resources, and I strongly suggest you take advantage of the yahoogroup, so you can download some charts and an Excel file that members have uploaded. Print them out. Use them.
This author has a very sort of "friendly, insightful coaching" style to her writing. It's both encouraging and wise. It's a voice that makes you believe in your ability to overcome your writing bugaboos and bad habits.
This is a cool book!!!! And I have dozens and dozens of writing references and how-tos. This is one I value for the organizational and block-overcoming aids.
Note: Don't write directly in the book, unless you only have the goal of writing a single novel. :) Instead, copy the charts, or reproduce them in a document, download them from the yahoogroup, or use a notebook. Also, you can do as I'm doing--I printed out the calendar to put up on the wall, printed out the character sheets from the BIAM group, but am using sticky notes to do the exercises in the spiral book. This way, when I'm ready to go to novel #2--and #3, #4, etc.--I can just take out the sticky notes for novel #1 and begin anew, with a clean book. I suppose you can use pencil and erase, but, men. Sounds messy. ; ) Good luck.
Thanks, Ms. Schmidt. I truly believe I WILL finish this novel(s)...at last.
Btw, between the two of us, using those two books, my friend and I DID finish our novel, so it's not hypothetical. You can do it!
Victoria Schmidt talks more about the *structure* of a story than such 'how to write' staples as "show, don't tell" and "use the active voice!" (That's good advice but we've all heard it before and it doesn't get to the heart of what a story is and isn't.)
Yes, there are worksheets and assignments, but after a few days, you should know to spend more time writing your own book than reading Schmidt's. I look at her book in the morning--there's a section for each day, 1 through 30--jot a couple things down on a notepad and refer to it throughout the day. It keeps me focused and when writing time comes, I'm juiced.
My goal is to complete the first draft of a murder mystery in 30 days. I'm aiming for 65,000 words, which means I'm behind schedule now. However, if I can get to the end of a solid story, I can flesh out the sketchy bits later. The story is the thing, and one lesson Schmidt teaches well is when we make ourselves write, our 'story sense' kicks in and we make more progress than if we were woolgathering, saving writing for 'just the right time,' which seldom comes.
Also, knowing that I have only 30 days to finish keeps me moving forward, rather than revising-as-I-go, which is the fool's way of deleting three pages for every two written: there's no end to it!