179 Ways to Save a Novel: Matters of Vital Concern to Fiction Writers
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

179 Ways to Save a Novel: Matters of Vital Concern to Fiction Writers

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  46 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Looking for ways to fix your novel? Or: Is your fiction writing in peril?Based on real advice gleaned from thousands of writing critiques, "179 Ways to Save a Novel" is more than a collection of ideas for troubleshooting your work-in-progress (though it holds plenty of practical writing advice). This inspiring guide doubles as a thoughtful examination of the writing life--...more
Paperback, 282 pages
Published April 21st 2010 by Writer's Digest Books (first published 2010)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 132)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Initial reaction: This book had so many gems for commentary, that I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It really comes across as helpful writing advice for writers of many expertise levels, and it's worth going through it. More to come when I write the full review (eventually - ended up finishing this in a library sitting).

Full review:

Reading this was a bit of a surprise for me, because I didn't expect it to be as funny in terms of the narrative voice that Peter Selgin gives for writing adv...more
Bridgina Molloy
While I could cheerfully choke the author of this book for his snobbish ideas about being an author and what we should be writing, and how we should write it, I did how ever enjoy the challenge of getting through it, and found to my delight (well, there were a few good things about the book), some good advice and interesting information that I will no doubt be using in my own work.

Now don't get the idea that you shouldn't read this book, I think you should, the amount of underlining and numerous...more
May 09, 2014 Paperadventures rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: writers, readers
I can confidently say that out of dozens of books about writing, this ranks among the top two I've ever read (the other being 'No Plot? No Problem!'-- which covers very different aspects of writing).

I've had a love/hate relationship with it, admittedly. Some of the author's advice rubs me the wrong way. Especially his preference for clear, concise writing and contempt for flowery, 'purple' writing. I know what he means about overly-stylized writing, but can't one enjoy the use of longer words an...more
Found this treasure in the NYPL bookshop, and could not put it down on the flight back. It is an examination of the writing life, the story about story.
Ugh, I didn't even make it all the way through this book. I have read some wonderful books on writing, or improving upon a novel. This one does not fall into that category. Dull, pretentious, and with an utterly unlikeable author (although I do appreciate his acknowledgement of snobbery), this was a real slog. The sad thing is, this book actually has some decent advice, it's just so terribly, terribly unpalatable. Life is short, and there are too many other good books on writing for me to waste...more
T. Edmund
One has to be very careful with writing books. Not unlike dieting and self-help books, books on writing have a certain niche market, and when we’re talking about marketing often books are aimed to sell, not to educate.

And we’ve all heard “those who can’t teach” it seems many writing books are written by authors with mediocre (or no) success.

My only words are advice are look for books written by editors rather than writers as editors actually know what they’re talking about, to be fair there are...more
In an effort to regurgitate interest in my recently completed novel, I scooped up this reasonably helpful, reasonably non-abusive primer on creating fiction. It has some good qualities. One thing I appreciated was the author's restraint--though he is obviously a unrepentant snob, he made an effort to keep his advice friendly and respectful to writers at an intermediate skill level (many people writing these self-help guides can't resist bashing beginners and students.)

My biggest complaint is tha...more
excellent book about writing. it is specific to the art of writing a novel in certain ways, but many of the ideas can be adapted to other formats. it's presented as a list of "meditations" relating to various aspects of writing, from dialogue to symbolism to titles to facing rejection from publishers. i found it especially helpful for motivating me to sit down & edit a piece i've been working on. there's a lot of emphasis on the authentic inhabiting of characters & using concise & pr...more
Echo's Onomatopoeia
Oct 01, 2012 Echo's Onomatopoeia rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Aspiring Novel Writers
Recommended to Echo's by: Peter Selgin, Himself
Peter Selgin is an excellent teacher, I can say this because I was lucky enough to have actually learned directly from him. He was a visiting writer at my college and he taught a tutorial in Short Fiction. As a teacher, he held nothing back and did not spare any of our feelings; which is what any good creative writing teacher should do. It is not their place to worry about hurting feelings. Instead, they should be able to critique the student just as any editor would and do so as if we were not...more
Another snobbish creative writing teacher writes a book about writing. No, that puts the book in a negative light- it's not that bad. Really though, not only is the title on Goodreads wrong (its 179, not 150), but also the title itself is slightly misleading: its not about "saving" a novel, but going over all the factors that go into writing a novel. And for some odd reason he goes into short stories as well.

Overall though I did learn a thing or two from it, and sure i have it highlighted and fo...more
Erin Landers
Throughout the blurbs of writing advice there is a really fantastic sense of humor. It makes what could be a dry topic more interesting to read.

I appreciate Selgin's dedication to true, artistic writing, best seller lists be damned.
Fredrick Danysh
The author discusses the art of writing for publication. He covers character development, scenes, dialogue, and numerous other factors. There is also a lot about meditation.
Lena Goldfinch
Jan 18, 2012 Lena Goldfinch marked it as to-read
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
This is mis-titled. It's actually 179 Ways to Save a Novel...

Very good so far. Reading it a bit of a time, which the format encourages.
Gwynn White
This book is an very valuable addition to any writers' collection of aids. It is also just a fun read.
Mary Louise
Excellent list for anyone writing a novel.
Lindsay marked it as to-read
Jul 10, 2014
S Wilson
S Wilson marked it as to-read
Jul 08, 2014
Cynthia Rosi
Cynthia Rosi marked it as to-read
Jun 21, 2014
Peter Selgin
Jun 17, 2014 Peter Selgin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)
Rebecca Burmesch
Rebecca Burmesch marked it as to-read
May 21, 2014
Maura marked it as to-read
May 07, 2014
Rachel marked it as to-read
May 06, 2014
Mary (Ravenclaw FTW!)
Mary (Ravenclaw FTW!) marked it as to-read
May 05, 2014
Tandie marked it as to-read
May 05, 2014
Scoozer marked it as to-read
Mar 26, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Peter Selgin is the author of Drowning Lessons, winner of the 2007 Flannery O’Connor Award for Fiction, Life Goes to the Movies, a novel, two books on the craft of fiction, and two children’s books. His stories and essays have appeared in dozens of magazines and anthologies, including Glimmer Train Stories, Poets & Writers, The Sun, Slate, Colorado Review, Writers and Their Notebooks, Writing...more
More about Peter Selgin...
By Cunning and Craft: Sound Advice and Practical Wisdom for Fiction Writers Drowning Lessons: Stories (Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction) Confessions of a Left-Handed Man: An Artist's Memoir Life Goes to the Movies S.S. Gigantic Across the Atlantic: The Story of the World's Biggest Ocean Liner Ever

Share This Book

“Never try to keep it professional, keep it smutty, write with bodily fluids on sandpaper, and damn the men with clipboards in white suits, the literary bean-counters, the prose police.” 1 likes
“Think of all the stories that would end before they begin if their characters gave careful consideration to the consequences of their actions.” 0 likes
More quotes…