The Successful Novelist: A Lifetime of Lessons about Writing and Publishing
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The Successful Novelist: A Lifetime of Lessons about Writing and Publishing

4.33 of 5 stars 4.33  ·  rating details  ·  119 ratings  ·  24 reviews
"Like listening to a beloved brother. I found the acute observations and his narrative philosophy more valuable for the new writer than the contents of any 100 other texts."-Dean Koontz

"The Successful Novelist is the vehicle you want if you plan to drive your way to successful fiction."-Joe R. Lansdale

David Morrell, bestselling author of First Blood, The Brotherhood of the...more
Paperback, 219 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by Sourcebooks
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Rhonda Davis
WHY DO YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER? how do you find ideas? how do you know what a good idea is? where do you begin a story, overcome writer's block, and how to sell the darn thing. as a budding novelist myself, i have constantly been looking for a reference guide to help me discover the answers to those (and a great many other) questions. this book does it all. i loved the info it provided so much that i bought a copy for two of my friends who were writers, and a second copy on audiobook. if you wan...more
David Morrell is awesome (and so is his sense of humor). Excellent guide to writing novels and stories, from outlining and grammar all the way through publishing and book tours, divided into easy lessons. It can be introductory or used as a refresher. Great addition to the writer's shelf (I promptly added the book to my Nook).

The audiobook narrator, Patrick Lawlor, is very engaging; his voice and talents are perfect as he interprets the sometimes humorous, sometimes straightforward tones of the...more
Extremely useful for anybody thinking about writing a novel.
Also, it would be useful for literary critics or for anyone trying to understand why some novels are great and most are plain boring.
Millie Dillman
I liked this a lot more than Stephen Kings' book On Writing because it was much more practical and useful for the real-life writer. I'll definitely re-read this.

Reading Method: Audible
C.G. Fewston
Cocaine ruined the book business. How was the "pitch" created? Don Simpson, according to Morrell, became the president of Paramount Productions (yes, in Hollywood)in 1981 and Simpson did so much cocaine that he coined the term "high-concept" in order for people to save time and to boil plots down to one liners so he could sniff a few lines for himself. And then the book publishers and marketing departments picked up on it (pg 29). (The blind leading the blind.)

Morrell offers many more classic st...more
T.L. Cooper
David Morrell opens The Successful Novelist with the most important question a writer will ever answer. “Why Do You Want to be a Writer?” He pushes the reader to go deep into his/her emotional state to answer the question. The rest of the book is filled with examples from Morrell’s life that illustrate the importance of knowing the emotional reason a writer writes. Interweaved is practical writing advice and look inside the mind of the man who created Rambo. The Successful Novelist also delves i...more
This book was recommended by the number one book reviewer in South Korea, Mr. Johnathan Shaver. His good taste and discerning eye were confirmed time and again by the content. Mr. Shaver was discriminating in his acceptance of Mr. Morrell's advice, which he then chose to pass on to others. I am blessed, thankful, and lucky indeed to be graced with correspondences from the number one book reviewer in South Korea. I look forward-with an eager and joyful soul-to the day on which I shall be re-unite...more
This is an invaluable guide for any novelist! I thoroughly enjoyed reading through it - I gained an incredible amount of knowledge while simultaneously being entertained, which was a pleasant surprise. David Morrell is the only author I've read thus far who can make an otherwise dull set of topics not only incredibly interesting but humorous at times as well. All my questions were answered and I've gained faith in that I'm not the only person in the world who thinks/feels the way I do about the...more
Tylor Sidener
Dec 15, 2012 Tylor Sidener rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Any writer
This book is full of great tips of how to write a novel. Since David has a Ph.D. in American literature and used to be a professor, he designed the book into lessons. He provides insights from writing in the different POVs to the strange idiosyncrasies of a book being turned into a movie.

I highly recommend "The Successful Novelist" in addition to Stephen King's "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft."
This is the best overview of the technical aspects and business of writing that I've ever read. I would reccommend this book to any new writer...and most veteran writers as well. Lots of good ideas about writing and helpful info relating to working with potential agents and publishers. Plus, its written in a very relaxed, non-academic style that makes it as fun to read as it is informative.
Preston Glidden
Most books about writing are quite dry, but Morrell has succeeded in writing a very enjoyable book that combines excellent how-to tips with career advice for the aspiring novelist. His stories from the trenches are very instructive, and I admire his willingness to admit his own mistakes. Highly recommended, and I will be re-reading this book as I get into the meat of writing my own novel.
This book is one of the many texts unpublished authors should keep handy. With his years of experience in the publishing industry, David Morrell brings his experience and wisdom to authors wanting to sharpen their craft. What's more his experience teaching literature allows him to provide insight into the history of writing, publishing and marketing.
Eoghan Odinsson
I didn't know when I bought this book that the author created Rambo. That was very valuable. That experience gave Morrell a perspective on writing, few have. The book is chock full of practical advice, as well as information on the entire commercial process, as he experienced it.

All in all, one of the better writing books.
Victoria Evangelina Belyavskaya

The book did not contain as much advice as I expected it to. Nonetheless, it gave me a few very valuable ideas. Wonderful presentation of the audio helps to picture the author in your inner eye and to better understand his writing philosophy. Recommended to those, who are in the beginning of their writing career.
This was a very interesting book. A lot of the lessons felt like listening to stories themselves . For me, this soaks in very well.
He does make some points I disagree with (seems like he dislikes certain styles of characters), but over all, some great lessons.
Nothing but praise for this book, and for my former English professor at the University of Iowa, Dr. David Morrell. Many passages in this book take me right back to his lively lectures on the American Novel and to the craft of writing that he so obviously loves.
Miranda Hersey
Belongs on any writer's shelf, even though it feels a little dated (marketing section doesn't go into social media, for example). The "conversation with yourself" exercise for development is an excellent strategy.
Although I am not an aspiring novelist, I still enjoyed this book. He gives a lot of good writing/publishing advice. Some of his examples helped me to understand why some writing sounds flat or transparent.
Jun 28, 2013 Joakim rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
According to Morrell writers are born, not made. He should've posted this as a disclaimer in the introduction and see sales plummet.
David Agranoff
Read it awhile back, David Morrell is a great teacher for novelists. Must have for new writers.

Jason Carlin
I think it's shocking that only 18 people have rated this. Probably more helpful than On Writing.
The best book on fiction writing I have read. It's a good read too- no boring technical blab here.
Rex Fuller
Excellent advice to writers. Good to keep next to Stephen King's On Writing.
Frederic Raymond
As useful as Stephen King's On writing.
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David Morrell is a Canadian novelist from Kitchener, Ontario, who has been living in the United States for a number of years. He is best known for his debut 1972 novel First Blood, which would later become a successful film franchise starring Sylvester Stallone. More recently, he has been writing the Captain America comic books limited-series The Chosen.
More about David Morrell...
The Brotherhood of the Rose (Mortalis, #1) Creepers First Blood Murder as a Fine Art The Fraternity Of The Stone

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“Don't give in to doubt. Never be discouraged if your first draft isn't what you thought it would be. Given skill and a story that compels you, muster your determination and make what's on the page closer to what you have in your mind. The chances are that you'll never make them identical. That's one reason I'm still hitting the keyboard. Obsessed by the secrets of my past, I try to put metaphorical versions of them on the page, but each time, no matter how honest and hard my effort, what's in my mind hasn't been fully expressed, compelling me to keep trying. To paraphrase a passage from John Barth's "Lost in the Funhouse," I'll die telling stories to myself in the dark. But there's never enough time. There was never enough time.” 1 likes
“So they spread the paintings on the lawn, and the boy explained each of them. "This is the school, and this is the playground, and these are my friends." He stared at the paintings for a long time and then shook his head in discouragement. "In my mind, they were a whole lot better."

Isn't that the truth? Every morning, I go to my desk and reread yesterday's pages, only to be discouraged that the prose isn't as good as it seemed during the excitement of composition. In my mind, it was a whole lot better.

Don't give in to doubt. Never be discouraged if your first draft isn't what you thought it would be. Given skill and a story that compels you, muster your determination and make what's on the page closer to what you have in your mind.”
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