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How to Write a Novel: 47 Rules for Writing a Stupendously Awesome Novel That You Will Love Forever

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  310 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
The most important thing to know about writing a novel is this: You can do it. And if you've already written one, you can write an even better one. Author and former literary agent Nathan Bransford shares his secrets for creating killer plots, fleshing out your first ideas, crafting compelling characters, and staying sane in the process.

Read the guide that New York Times
Kindle Edition, 150 pages
Published October 25th 2013
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Jesse (JesseTheReader)
Oct 31, 2013 Jesse (JesseTheReader) rated it really liked it
I read this in preparation of NaNoWriMo and I found it to be very encouraging and helpful. I'll definitely be using it as a source of motivation throughout the month of November as I work diligently towards writing 50,000 words.
Emily Carpenter
Dec 24, 2013 Emily Carpenter rated it really liked it
This guy has the sunniest attitude I've ever encountered from someone in the book business. He offers practical solutions to obstacles and an all around easy, breezy approach to writing a novel. If you've ever contemplated doing it, do it. But pick up this book first.
Jordan Price
This book reads more like a series of disconnected blog posts for me--yes, they're ordered logically, but there's not much depth. The advice feels general and basic.

I have a difficult time finding writing advice books I can sink my teeth into. I suspect the best way to go is to have my work critiqued specifically, so that rather than reading "most people should heed this general rule," someone would be offering, "I think I see what you were trying to do here, and it might work better with anoth
Lisa Brackmann
Nov 24, 2013 Lisa Brackmann rated it it was amazing
This really is an awesome guide to writing a novel. It's smart, generous and funny as hell, a book about about writing that is actually fun to read. His rules are really descriptions of principles of good writing and of how books are put together, so you'll get a lot out of this book whether you're a plotter or a pantser or however you work. I highly recommend it.
Hannah Jones
Nov 06, 2013 Hannah Jones rated it it was amazing
The most practical and enjoyable craft book I've ever read. Written in his typical friendly tone (I'm a long-term blog follower), Nathan Bransford offers situations, advice, and personal writing antidotes which mirrors the contemporary writing life/novel struggle experience that I've found lacking in most other popular writing craft books. This book is chock full with real, concrete advice regarding plot, outlining, pacing, voice, characterization, and revision, among other things, that I can ...more
Beverly Diehl
Nov 29, 2013 Beverly Diehl rated it it was amazing
Let me put this out there first: If you are one of the thousands of people who've been visiting Nathan's blog for the last several years, getting all those free goodies and tips, then if you are a decent human being and not a soul-sucking leech, you need to pony up and buy this book. Even if the book sucked.

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 sp
Davonna Juroe
Feb 28, 2014 Davonna Juroe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I've been reading Nathan Bransford's blog since 2007. His advice and insight on both publishing and writing have influenced important decisions I've made in my career. When I found out that he'd written a non-fiction book on how to write a novel, I nabbed it.

Drawing on his many years of experience as a former literary agent, successful middle grade fiction writer, and social media expert, Nathan bundles his pearls of wisdom in a quick, concise read -- perfect for the two-second world we live in
Dec 11, 2013 Kourtney rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-tips
Nathan Bransford’s How to Write A Novel is one of the best writing books I’ve read. He lays out 47 steps for writing “a stupendously awesome novel that you will love forever”. It will be my writing bible going forward.

Bransford’s writing style makes you feel like he’s your mentor imparting morsels of genius over salted caramel hot chocolate at your favorite Brooklyn coffeehouse.

Right now, I’m in outlining mode. I spend the majority of my time in revision mode, so I was experiencing all the issu
Rachel Hatch
Oct 28, 2013 Rachel Hatch rated it really liked it
Wow, I get to be the first to review this? Well, I guess it did come out today...

Great, straightforward guide to writing a novel. For those who have read a lot of such books, there is a lot here that is familiar, but some new, fresh takes on novel writing, too. The author's humor helps the medicine go down very nicely, even if it is (probably very intentionally) a bit corny.

I especially appreciated the checklist for when your novel is done...

Now one of these days I'll get around to writing my ow
I adore Nathan Bransford's humorous voice and the style of this how-to book. Well-written and a perfect companion to NaNoWriMo.
Oct 14, 2016 Merceda rated it really liked it
He's got a humorous point of view, which keeps the book interesting as he points out great ideas on creating a novel.
Renee Elizabeths
This review was crossposted from my blog. View the whole post (and more!) here

Why Did I Pick That

I've followed Mr. Bransford's blog for years. He offers
great advice and insight into the publishing process. In fact, while I was
happy for him when he sold his first novel, I was really sad to see him change
his title to "former literary agent" because he was on my list of top
agents I would really love to work with someday. He was actually one of the
first agents I ever queried.

In related news
Shona Moyce
Apr 28, 2016 Shona Moyce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Writing is not always fun. It shouldn’t always be fun. You’re not doing it because it’s always fun. The only reason to write a novel is because you have some insane fire burning inside that years of therapy have been unable to extinguish, and you fear how disappointed you will be with yourself if you never do it. Or, you know, because you really, really want to do it. You have to want it. You have to work at it.'
Nathan Bransford

Nathan Bransford's blog has been a writing bible of sorts to me si
Lenora Good
Jun 29, 2016 Lenora Good rated it it was amazing
First off, notice the subtitle, "...YOU WILL LOVE Forever." I think that's one of the most important parts of the whole book. If YOU don't love your novel, no one else will. And, if no one else does love it, you still will.

I've read several How-to-Write books, and put this right at the top. It is one I will keep and recommend to people who write short stories, novels, nonfiction, memoir – in short, to anyone who writes and wants to make it better.

If you're serious about writing that novel, get a
Feb 16, 2014 Geoffrey rated it really liked it
I've read many books on writing, as I'm sure many of us have. From McKee's Story and King's On Writing to Bradbury's Zen in The Art of Writing and Truby's The Anatomy of Story. I also enjoy those books that talk about creativity in general - Pressfield's The War of Art, comedian/podcast king Chris Hardwick's The Nerdist Way, etc.

What I found in the pages of Nathan Bransford's How to Write a Novel is nothing new for someone in my shoes. But this is not a criticism of the work - its actually one o
Jan 06, 2014 Bobby rated it it was amazing
Full review on my blog here:

Synopsis: This book contains 47 guidelines on how to develop characters, maintain plot, include conflict to keep the reader involved, deal with the stress of getting or not getting published, and basic writer tips for aspiring and already published authors.

My review: I have decided to read several books on how to improve my writing skills this year. This is a great tutorial for beginners and non-beginner writers. This books li
Nov 04, 2014 Hannah rated it it was amazing
I haven't read many books on writing, so I don't know how How to Write a Novel compares, but I actually really loved reading this book. It was such a great introduction to writing! Nathan covers 47 "rules" - each chapter is a rule and a simple and direct explanation of what he means. If you've been writing for years, this might not offer anything new or helpful. But if you're just getting started? I walked away feeling like I better understand the different elements of a great novel. In fact, I ...more
Sep 07, 2014 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nathan Bransford can be a delight to read for his wit alone, but the core of his blog and this book is concise and insightful advice for writers attempting the novel.

How to Write a Novel is precisely what its cover says. It's not about how to write a good novel; it's about getting the work done. Part good advice and part breezy encouragement, the basics of getting a book done are covered here, and covered with precision. Bransford does not attempt to answer questions outside the "how to write a
Graeme Ing
Nov 09, 2013 Graeme Ing rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
I must have read dozens of such books about writing and after a while they repeat themselves but this one is rather unique simply because of the humor. Don't take it lightly though: Bransford is an accomplished author and veteran of the publishing industry. He knows what he's talking about. Teaching via humor never fails to win me over.

The book flows nicely from before you begin writing to editing, with each chapter tightly focused on a single point. The chapter titles make this a great referenc
Sidney Jr.
A terrific little book on writing the novel. It gives practical advice on how to write a novel, how to push past hurdles and how to effectively revise your work once you've finished it. It is a very helpful resource for aspiring writers. Now, it does not go into depth about characterization, plot, setting, and the like, although there a "rules" that touch on those topics (you'll need a different book if you want to go in-depth on those topics). However, what it does is give you advice on how to ...more
Apr 10, 2014 Natalie rated it it was amazing
Nathan Bransford has been an agent and a fiction-writer, and his experience comes through in this book. From the first "rule" of the 47 ("BELIEVE!") to the last ("Obey the Ten Commandments for the Happy Writer," which begin with "Enjoy the Present" and end with "Keep Writing"), this book was 100% encouraging, concretely helpful, and fun to read. It is also easy to read and understand. That's not to say that Bransford says it's easy to write one's novel—he readily recognizes the difficulty of the ...more
Jan 25, 2015 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
While this book could have been subtitled, "How to Write Young Adult Fiction", there are many valuable tips distilled from the author's experience as both a writer and editor and which are succinctly presented. This book has a very positive and encouraging voice which is great to hear. The writing examples, largely consisting of Star Wars and Harry Potter, don't exactly lend great insight into writing literature, such that they are all surface without any philosophical undercurrent (read on 2 ...more
Gordon Clemmons
Feb 25, 2014 Gordon Clemmons rated it it was amazing
Absolutely wonderful. There are some books on writing that every writer should read: On Writing by Stephen King, Stein on Writing by Sol Stein, etc.

Add this one to the list.

It's helpful, easy to read, and hilarious. How rare to find those three things in any book, let alone a how-to? How To Write a Novel gave me some genuine light-bulb-over-my-head moments, particularly in the chapters dealing with story planning and character development.

Mr. Bransford has been a literary agent and a published
Jaimie Teekell
Nov 06, 2013 Jaimie Teekell rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is an excellent book for a budding writer and though I might be called a budding writer I've read so many books on writing that I wasn't getting much new out of this one. Then, at the very end, something - some word of advice or encouragement - knocked it out of the park for me. I can't remember what it was. But trust me: it was awesome. And I'll be looking at it again.

(See it's good I can't immediately remember what it was. I'm not spoiling the book for you!)

So, law of averages, four stars
Dec 12, 2014 M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing, non-fiction
More like a coffee shop conversation about writing than a dense tome, this guide is funny and motivational. Aiming primarily at beginners, Bransford has a gift for making difficult concepts accessible.

My favorite bits explore writerly lifestyle and psychology because Bransford GETS IT. He gets how we writers secretly hate our non-writer friends who can go out for happy hour without feeling guilty about not working on their books. He gets how sometimes we have to sit around indulging our delusion
Brigitta Moon
Apr 09, 2016 Brigitta Moon rated it it was amazing
Now here is a 5 star non fiction book. I was in no way disappointed. I have read many books claiming they were going to help me with something, only to be a book that was all about selling the author of the book. After reading them I would love to toss in the fire, but I can't because they're ebooks. After reading this book I felt I had learned a lot and was thoroughly entertained. The book is so well written and reader friendly that I know I will read it again and again. It is a must have for ...more
Chris Norbury
Jul 06, 2014 Chris Norbury rated it liked it
Maybe best for a beginning writer, someone looking to write their first novel and being a bit overwhelmed by how to start. Anyone who has written a novel might find some useful tips and ideas, but perhaps have already developed their writing routine.

Mr. Bransford writes in an entertaining, light, humorous style, and he gets his points across without belaboring anything. Each rule is well-considered and concisely defined. A fast read and a great reference tool for when you get stuck on a certain
May 26, 2015 Alison rated it it was amazing
This is a highly useful guide, well laid out and is great for picking up a lot of pointers. His style is very jovial, but despite being an amusing read, there are many serious messages built into the book. The chapters are extremely short which makes it very easy to pick up and put down. Although a How To, I wanted to keep reading, thus consume all of his advice. A well-written book, thoroughly enjoyable and very well thought out. Perfect for a writer’s toolkit.(Also posted under Ali Gardiner ...more
Russell Buyse
Feb 08, 2014 Russell Buyse rated it it was amazing
Branford is thorough, pithy, and funny about the journey of writing a novel. His rules are simple and easy to understand, explained well, and entertaining at the same time. I laughed many times at Bransford's jokes and at situations I recognized from my own novel writing experience. His advice is sound. I recommend this book to every first time novelist and even to those who have several under their belt.
Mr Kevin R Davis
Well that will learn me!

Having starting writing the first chapter of my novel about 4years ago and not much since. I am thankful I found this book before I started writing again. As it has shown me that the only person who would have read my novel would have been me. Now I have revised my ideas and hopefully the finished work will be infinitely better. Thank you Nathan for your informative book.
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Nathan Bransford is the author of How to Write a Novel (October, 2013), Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow (Dial, May 2011), Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe (Dial, April 2012) and Jacob Wonderbar and the Interstellar Time Warp (Dial, February 2013). He was formerly a literary agent with Curtis Brown Ltd. and is now the director of community and social media at Freelancers ...more
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“writing a novel is extremely complicated. So complicated, in fact, that you cannot possibly hold your entire novel in your head all at once. And that’s okay.” 0 likes
“something is what makes protagonists interesting.” 0 likes
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