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How to Write a Novel: 47 Rules for Writing a Stupendously Awesome Novel That You Will Love Forever Paperback – November 20, 2013
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About the Author
Nathan Bransford is the author of How to Write a Novel, Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow, Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe and Jacob Wonderbar and the Interstellar Time Warp. He was formerly a literary agent with Curtis Brown Ltd. and writes a popular blog on writing and publishing. He lives in New York City.
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This book contains gratingly run of the mill advice written in a gratingly silly tone. I cannot believe that any serious would-be novelist would give this thing more than a couple of stars. It reads like it was written by a fourteen year old egomaniac with ADHD. The attempts at cutesy humour are embarrassing, as are the regular references to the author's own novel series.
I have read through quite a number of books on how to write fiction. I rate all of them more highly than this irritating thing.
So, what guide should the aspiring novelist get? The three I recommend below are all excellent options:
1.) "Write a Novel and Get It Published" by Stephan May and Nigel Watts. (You can see it here: http://www.amazon.com/Write-Novel-2nd-Yourself-Writing/dp/1444171194/ref=sr_1_sc_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410512632&sr=1-2-spell&keywords=write+a+novel+stephan+may). This book is concise, wise, genial, sober, and incisive;
2.) "Your First Novel" by Ann Rittenberg and Laura Whitcomb. This book is direct, comprehensive, authoritative, and goes out of its way to be encouraging. It's a great option;
3.) "Structuring Your Novel" by K. M. Weiland. As the title implies, this book primarily examines structure, and does so in great detail. Although the information is excellent, the books I recommended above have an easier-to-read lay out (smaller font, more spacing, etc.). But if you're not bothered by that sort of thing, this book is also a valuable resource.
Any one (or more) of the above three guides will be a great help to an aspiring novelist. I suggest not wasting your time with the silly, irritating book being reviewed here.
I think what separates this work from other Here's-How-You-Write books is the author's background. Nathan's a writer and he was an agent, so he's approached final drafts from both sides of the battlefield. Reading as much slush as he has (shudder) really gives him great insight on common pitfalls to avoid. And with his writing experience, he can properly tell you how to avoid them.
The best part about the book he actually touches upon in the book itself (meta!). I'm too lazy to find a direct quote, but essentially it's how you'll never come up with a story that no one has ever thought of before (billions and billions of people and all that). What's important is how you tell that story.
The same applies to this work. Everything in here is something I've read in other How-To's or heard from teachers. But, and this is why you should buy this, Bransford explains all of these things in a way that's so easy to swallow. I mean- I've got a creative writing degree, I've been published here and there, but there's stuff in this book that $40,000 and 10 creative writing teachers couldn't get through my thick skull. Nathan just takes the advice, wraps it in a corny, apropos, candy-coated metaphor, and it goes down easy. It makes sense.
I recently decided to get serious about the self-publishing game, and was just about to get started on another novel. Though this book is definitely written for beginners, I'll be using this sucker as my writing bible over the next six months. Right alongside my Strunk and White.
But, it DOESN'T suck. Some of it is common sense (you're not going to make mountains of money writing books) and some is practical advice (don't chase trends), and some is kind of a shared spirit of camaraderie. Like: "After all, what is the point of writing a novel if not to settle old grudges by taking veiled swipes at people who've wronged you?"
It covers everything from knowing your genre - and why this is important, to the basics (plot, character, voice). What a killer first page actually means and why many authors get it wrong. Editing and revising. Making backups, on the theory that what if you got robbed on the way back to your apartment which is on fire? Even on getting started again, if life has interfered with your novel for XX days/weeks/months, because that whole "write every day" thing works great for independently wealthy novelists who never, ever get sick or who have friends or family who want attention from time to time.
If you write, some of these things you probably already do right, and some of it... We all need reminders. And easy ways to test if we're doing it right. Those things are included here. I laughed, I nodded my head, I highlighted my copy like a fiend. If you write - even if you are writing a memoir - this book can help you.