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Troubleshooting Your Novel: Essential Techniques for Identifying and Solving Manuscript Problems Paperback – September 20, 2016
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Steven James is a master of the writing craft, as well as gifted teacher. He's both engaging and insightful. It's no secret that these qualities make him a Writer's Digest Conference attendee favorite. He knows what he's talking about and he knows how to effectively share his insights with others. Our post-conference attendee surveys confirm, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he is one of the best. Certainly we welcome his return.
-- Phil Sexton, Publisher at Writer's Digest
It is a testament to the skill of Steven James that he can write a book on craft that is every bit as much a page-turner as one of his best-selling thrillers. I read this book in a kind of thrall, enjoying the wisdom on every topic it touched upon. Writing is rewriting, as they say, and this eminently useful guide is a tool kit for making that good book better, and making that better book great.
-- David Corbett, Award-winning author of The Art of Character
Our instincts proved correct. His classes have been widely popular.
Steven sent me the manuscript, and I thought, Okay, I'll skim through it to get the gist of things and then write a few kind words. I started on page 1 and read a little. Then a little more. Then a little more after that. A few hours later, I finished the entire book. Every word.
And was amazed.
For years I've said that someone should write a practical, hands-on, how-to guide on polishing a manuscript. So many writers bangout that first draft and then have no idea what to do next. The art of self-editing is a lost one. Writers today are in a hurry. The world of independent publishing has ushered in a generation of impatience and, to some degree, carelessness.
In my day the gatekeepers were New York editors. They decided what was published. Those days are gone. The gatekeepers today are you, me, and every other reader in the world. We determine what's popular, what endures, and what comes next. And if you thought NewYork editors were tough, the entire world makes them look down-right kind.
All of which means that now, more than ever, writers have to master the art of self-editing. And it is an art. In the following pages Steven whittles down that task to a clear, concise, and succinct form. He's created a book that needed to be written, and thank goodness he was the one who wrote it. Steven holds a master's degree in storytelling, which in and of itself is impressive. He's taught writing all over the world. He's published fifteen novels, along with another terrific book on writing, Story Trumps Structure. This man just doesn't talk the talk; he walks the walk.
From the day I wrote my first word to the day I sold my first word was a span of twelve years.
During that time I completed eight manuscripts, five of which were submitted to New York publishing houses. They were rejected a total of eighty-five times. It was on the eighty-sixth attempt that things happened for me. Unfortunately, in the1990s, no book like this existed. You learned manuscript polishing through trial and error, writing every day, and taking heed of the many rejections that came your way. That path was both instructive and painful. Steven has now taken some of the pain out of the process.
I encourage every writer out there--whether published, about-to-be published, or just with the desire to be published--to read this book. Then apply its principles to your own writing.
I assure you, the finished product will be a thousand percent better. I'll definitely be doing that.
And we'll all have Steven James to thank.
-- Steve Berry, New York Times and #1 Internationally Bestselling Author
About the Author
Best known for his psychological thrillers, he has received more than a dozen honors and awards for his books, including three Christy Awards for best suspense. His novel The Queen was a finalist for an International Thriller Award.
Steven's groundbreaking book on the craft of fiction, Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules, won a 2015 Storytelling World Award, recognizing it as one of the year's best resources for storytellers. He is the host of the podcast "The Story Blender," in which he interviews great storytellers from the world of cinema, oral performance, and writing about the craft of great storytelling.
Steven leads regular Novel Writing Intensive retreats around the country that provide in-depth instruction for serious novelists. For information on these seminars, visit www.novelwritingintensive.com.
For information on his fiction, visit www.stevenjames.net.
To book him to speak, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top customer reviews
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This is Steve’s newest book on writing. And boy, do I need a manual for troubleshooting my novel. I trust Steve's thinking about writing and storytelling. I wasn’t disappointed.
This book was about
He provides ‘essential techniques for identifying and solving manuscript problems. With a great deal of transparency, Steve shares in this book problems and solutions he has found in his own writing.
Things I liked about this book
It is so encouraging to have a slice of life view of how Steve has written his books. I don’t feel like I’m off the track in my writing, but encourage to continue pursuing turning my fiction into a ‘worthy’ and entertaining story.
Why you should read this book
I would like to have these techniques burned into my writing processes. If you’re a plotter, some of his techniques will be difficult to read. He is going to try to win you over, but he also shows you how to use these techniques within your plotting world. For ‘organic’ writers, it is a great textbook to reinforce those techniques which feel natural to you and show how to deal with typical problem areas. No matter which type you are, he reminds you again and again, writing is hard work.
This book lived up to the back cover copy
I love this sentence, “You owe your book more than just a polish and a proofread.” This book shows you how to accomplish this challenge.
I have only had this book one night but the difference when I sat with my work in progress was immediate - the confusion I have often felt ( and hence the pain and anguish involved in writing) was taken away as soon as I applied what he recommends. From the questions he puts for you to consider, you become aware, in a very clear way, of what is missing, page by page, in your manuscript, and enables you to see where you have gone off in the wrong direction etc. He has you evaluating your work in a way which helps you have clarity. Already I have spotted and changed several aspects in the book I am working on.
Author of 'Dingo: the Story of our Mob' (Random House) and 'Unsung Ordinary Men' (Hachette)