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A Novel in a Year

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  184 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
'The art of writing, ' Kingsley Amis said, 'is the art of applying the seat of one's trousers to the seat of one's chair.' Looking at different aspects of writing, this book features set exercises to help the reader improve their confidence and technique, covering essential skills for all would-be novelists
Unknown Binding, 265 pages
Published July 12th 2007 by Not Avail (first published 2007)
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Aug 20, 2012 Mel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am almost done with Novel in a Year by Louise Doughty and it's a case of good intentions barbed with terribleness. As she gives one good slice of advice (to be a good writer, one must read and read a lot) she also gives this:

“I don’t wish to discourage you from reading the classics – unless it’s Henry James, in which case I would discourage you from even giving him room on the shelves in your toilet.”

Recounting the many funny one-liners she received to a writing exercise leaves us with this
Alan Coady
Jul 15, 2012 Alan Coady rated it really liked it
This is an extremely practical guide to the elements of the craft. As the project was no longer live when I read it, I crashed through it in a couple of weeks and feel like I learned a great deal. I also formed a high opinion of Louise Doughty as a person. She came across as very robust, likeable and honest.
Aug 29, 2014 Wwmrsweasleydo rated it really liked it
Very readable, practical and inspiring advice about writing. It has realistic, real-world advice and acknowledges straight off that all you can hope for in one year is a first draft. Doughty is very good at spotting the BS people tell themselves, but she's also good at stopping would-be writers from feeling guilty about the time we don't spend writing. It's short and quick to read in one go, or you could read a chapter a week as the readers of the original newspaper column did. There isn't ...more
Mar 23, 2009 A.M. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everone
Recommended to A.M. by: friend
Shelves: non-fiction
The title is misleading. At the end of this book, don't expect to have a novel. However, if you know how much work writing really is, you'll realize that reading any book won't make your novel write itself!

In any case, I really recommend this book, to serious and non-serious writers both, to published and unpublished authors. The writing exercises were inspiring and challenging and, above all, fun. The book left me feeling renewed and optimistic.

Louise Doughty's writing is clever, entertaining,
Aug 14, 2010 Ann rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-craft
Very useful (and reassuring) while not being dictatorial about process. Doughty has a more organic approach to finding out what your story's arc and themes are than some of the charts and worksheets and outline points writing tomes out there: you'll get there by doing more writing (not necessarily writing that will be in the novel) than by making lists or filling in structure charts.
Robert C.
Dec 29, 2014 Robert C. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing, knowledge
This is such a very, very useful book - follow the exercises and you will make huge progress on your novel.

Aside from the exercises, here's a brief summary of the advice in each chapter:

week 1: Complete this sentence: The day after my eight birthday my father told me.. So I did. Didn't take me a week. Hmm; perhaps I should try the next chapter now.
week 2: read contemporary fiction omnivorously and critically so that you can learn what is good and what is not good.
week 3: Resist the temptation to
Jan 30, 2014 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014, writing
Apparently I started reading this book about four years ago. I finally finished it today, having re-started it a month ago. The difference is that I ignored the layout and intended time-frame.

What this book consists of is 52 short chapters, which were originally published as weekly newspaper columns. Every other week there was a short exercise (so, 26 in all) which encouraged reader participation either by letter or on a dedicated website forum. Apparently there was widespread enthusiasm and inv
Nov 10, 2009 Hannah rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
The title of this book is very misleading. It's not about a novel having been written in a year. It's not even about how to write a novel in a year. There is virtually no helpful advice on writing novels here, only bland and weak exercises some of which working off the assumption you already have some sort of novel brewing.

Doughty was often smug about her own skill, and downright rude towards other writers, particularly several famous ones. Her slander of these other writers left a very sour tas
Chris Harvey
I found the book a little middle class, it seemed for those people who wanted to write a book for years but never found the time. It was into very realistic writing, not fantasy which I do. As a writer, albet a bad one, I found the first half of the book a little boring. I started the exercises but quickly realised they were not what wanted so stopped. I left the book about half way through then picked it up sometime later to simple finish it. The second half, when writing a novel, was a lot ...more
J Wrin
Nov 17, 2015 J Wrin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I took my time over this book, sipping at it in small portions. I will admit, I didn't attempt the exercises but I was OK with that because I don't need prodding to get writing. This book really is best suited for beginners, people with a notion that they would like to write a novel but have never gotten down to trying. Having said that, I am not such a snob as to say I didn't get valuable advice and tips from this book, because I most certainly did. Louise has a wonderful approachable style and ...more
Katarina Persson
May 15, 2016 Katarina Persson rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2016
I found this book quite boring and not very helpful or inspiring. And I don't agree with the idea the author wants to get across that NO writers think of the plot or know what the story is going to be about before they start, or know what is going to happen in it before they've written it. It's so obviously wrong because there are just as many writers that do that, as the ones that don't and it makes me wonder exactly how many writers this author has really met... I just disagree with the entire ...more
Donna Henderson
Sep 21, 2013 Donna Henderson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: archives
I have read about twenty how-to-write-a-novel books, and take my word for it, this is up there as one of the best! I felt totally renewed after finishing this book, and I have finally allocated a weekly slot in my diary totally dedicated to my writing (something other books have advised me to do but they never quite had the same impact on me). Louise combines creative exercises with practical thought, in the most genius way. Highly recommended if you are, like me, starting out with a novel and ...more
Alyce Hunt
Apr 14, 2016 Alyce Hunt rated it really liked it
Came up with some great writing exercises, which were extremely inspiring. Definitely makes you consider the entire process of writing a novel, and what a massive task it is to undertake. I might have felt more of an effect if I'd actually read it over the course of a year, so I'd recommend reading this over a period of time. The multiple use of 'chose' as choose was rather irritating, but I could get past it.
Louise Wilson
Feb 04, 2015 Louise Wilson rated it really liked it
I've been stuck on the draft of a novel for some months. It took this book, read in one sitting, to get me motivated again. Thank you, Louise Doughty, for turning your newspaper column of 2006 into a very readable and very insightful exposition of the organic process of writing a novel. You make everything seem possible for someone prepared to confront the reality of the thinking and hard work required to create a work of fiction.
Michael Scott
Jan 03, 2013 Michael Scott rated it really liked it
TODO: I really liked this course on creative (novel) writing. A week-by-week project, a bit of thematic explanation and rather simple exercises. Ran as a newspaper community in 2006; this is an analysis and summary. I would have liked an overview from the start and more numbers (opinions from others). Could have used some appendices on selected text from the texts submitted by the newspaper audience (small excerpts are already in). Inspiring!
Dec 02, 2015 Sheila rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a helpful guide to publishing your own novel. What I especially liked was that each chapter of ideas was followed by a practical exercise related to your work or work in progress. Useful. Helped me to identify the weaknesses and strengths of my writing and hope to make some changes to improve it. Also found the author, Louise Doughty (also been to a workshop of hers) very honest about her own fears and failures. I would recommend it to any aspiring writer.
S. J.
Feb 21, 2016 S. J. rated it liked it
I imagine this would have been more useful to me about five years ago; nevertheless it was an interesting, sometimes amusing read and did help me think about my current writing project(s) more critically. There were a few aspects of Doughty's humor that didn't sit well with me, and as a text it's rather out of date now, but still worth a read for anyone who wants to give their creativity a kick in the pants.
Jul 06, 2013 Shel rated it it was amazing
I love this book!
Having decided to write my own novel this year, I bought this book to spur me on, keep me on track and give me a sense of direction. So far so good!
Author, Louise Doughty, is a journalist and author. She created this book as a result of a newspaper column.
The book includes a chapter for each week and an exercise to complete every second week. The exercises are not difficult - all you need is a little bit of time.
Dec 08, 2008 Anna rated it liked it
I'm a sucker for these "what I learnt in a year" books (refer "My Year Without Shopping" and "So Many Books, So Little Time") so I couldn't go past this. I have no intention of writing a novel but was fun to eyeball Doughty's practical tips on the process. Her honesty, wit and encouragement make it a good read, although probably really only if you want to write that novel...

Feb 24, 2009 Patrick rated it liked it
Most writing books fall into one of two categories: inspirational ("you can do it!") or mechanical ("here's how to do it"). This one tries to do a bit of both and is unsuccessful on each front. There are a few useful exercises and a few good suggestions, but it felt a little lighter than the top writing books do. Worthwhile if only because it's a very quick read.
Alexandra Needham
Jan 29, 2014 Alexandra Needham rated it it was ok
Shelves: writing-guides
Prescriptivist and dismissive. There are some gems of ideas in here, but they're smothered in baby-step instructions that are probably patronising and boring for anyone who's done any writing in school, let alone most people who would be interested in picking up a book on writing novels.
Jan 10, 2016 Stephanie rated it liked it
Shelves: writing, read-2016
Some good stuff in here, but would be especially useful for writers just starting out and needing a framework and lots of positive reinforcement.
Max S.
Jan 25, 2016 Max S. rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I got this from the library so I obviously didn't do the whole program, but I read it through in a day and I think I might buy this book to do all the exercises.
Martine McDonagh
Jun 17, 2015 Martine McDonagh rated it it was amazing
Read it in a day and keep going back to it. One of the best books on writing I've read: realistic, clear and funny.
Oct 18, 2013 Miko rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't read this book weekly, as was intended, but I always find it interesting to read through another writer's process. I like it.
Dec 16, 2015 Peter rated it liked it
Shelves: writing, read-2011
Really inspirational and down to earth advice, made me want to try the exercises and write some prose.
Amanda rated it liked it
Sep 06, 2015
Emma rated it liked it
May 18, 2014
Clare Trenholm
Clare Trenholm rated it really liked it
Nov 13, 2016
Luci rated it really liked it
Jun 23, 2014
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Louise Doughty is a novelist, playwright and critic. She is the author of five novels; CRAZY PAVING, DANCE WITH ME, HONEY-DEW, FIRES IN THE DARK and STONE CRADLE, and one work of non-fiction A NOVEL IN A YEAR. She has also written five plays for radio. She has worked widely as a critic and broadcaster in the UK, where she lives, and was a judge for the 2008 Man Booker Prize for fiction.

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