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Is Life Like This?: A Guide to Writing Your First Novel in Six Months
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Is Life Like This?: A Guide to Writing Your First Novel in Six Months

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  76 ratings  ·  16 reviews
“Writing a novel,” says John Dufresne, “is not as easy as you may have thought before you tried. But it’s also not as difficult as you imagined.” Dufresne’s smart, practical, hard-nosed guide is for the person who has always wanted to write a novel but has been daunted by the sometimes chaotic, always challenging writing process. A patient teacher and experienced writer, D ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published February 1st 2010 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 17th 2010)
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Brion Salazar
I'm not a big fan of the "Write a novel in X amount of time" books. I don't think writing, remarkable writing, can be accomplished by formula alone. So with that in mind I was skeptical about this book. After finishing it, I was pleased to find that it was much more about a philosophy of novel writing than simply a step-by-step guide to pushing out a novel. While the author does borrow heavily from other writers as well as other books on writing, I do consider there to be enough original thought ...more
Peregrine 12
Dec 04, 2010 Peregrine 12 rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Aspiring writers
Recommended to Peregrine 12 by: Local writing club
Good one to start with, if you're just beginning to write fiction. This book is heavy on the creativity and imagination aspect of writing, but very little help on the actual mechanics of how to write engaging fiction.

Contains lots of ways to evaluate books you've read and ways to practice and develop your own writing. A useful text.
If you haven't read many other writing books, this is probably a fine one to start with; don't let my review deter you from reading it. For anyone else who *has* read many writing books, there isn't anything here you haven't heard in a more engaging way from another source.

I read the first several chapters, which weren't engaging but weren't awful or anything. If the advice offered had been new to me, I'm sure it would have been engaging enough that I wouldn't have even registered that the writ
Having little formal training in writing prose, I came to John Dufresne’s Is Life Like This? A Guide to Writing Your First Novel in Six Months as an interested skeptic. Six months? Reading this guide, I realized how many erroneous preconceptions I had of the novel-writing process. The method Dufresne lays out jettisons the idea of sitting down, starting at page one and plowing through page after chronological page until you get to the end:

“Writing a novel does not proceed in a linear fashion eve
This is, by far, the best book on novel writing that I've read. It is part self-help (as in, how do I do it?), part exercises, and part essay on writing.
I used this book in a Novel Writing class this fall and the students liked it as well.
He has lots of great exercises and great advice for writers in general.
Highly recommended!
I made it through the first hundred pages, after which my frustration had mounted so high that I decided not to continue.

This book irritated me in that it seemed almost as if, while attempting to carve a path for other writers toward the creation of their own works, Dufresne himself kept getting sidetracked and meandering off of his own trail. There was vague advice offered, but it often seemed weighted down by unnecessary details (such as the Latin or Italian origins for words like fiction and
Bella Mia
When I was in screenwriting classes in college, I had a professor who warned us about writing books that were written by people who aren't writers. They just teach OTHER people how to do the thing they don't do. Now, This author IS an actual author with real published work, which is what persuaded me to buy this book, but I STILL didn't finish it out if frustration. Often, writing books fall flat because the author is too vague but this author has the opposite. It's way to convoluted. I have a f ...more
Great book, especially if you're writing your first novel. Dufresne's THE LIE THAT TELLS THE TRUTH is probably the better all-around book on writing fiction, as good as any work by a single author, particularly if you agree that writing prompts are an important part of the life.

The title is a misnomer. You won't be finished with your novel in six months. You will have a draft. This points to one of the strengths of Dufresne's teaching: He gives boundaries to what is too often a formless activity
Sandy Sopko
I have been taking notes from this book, collecting recommended texts, and engaging in some of the writing exercises. I like his hands-on, step-by-step approach to writing. The writing I have done so far is mostly vignettes based on the suggested exercises. I also have collected some of the resources he's recommended (a new Bartlett's Roget's Thesaurus, for example) and reading some of my favorite books, but reading them as a writer, with an eye for the writer's craft. My initial notes from this ...more
Cherstin Holtzman
This book offered some classic tips and pointers on writing while bringing each to life with in-text examples. It's a quick "how-to," a little different than others I've read, but I gave it four stars for not having any sort of synopsis. When reading a book on writing, I like to see some sort of list with highlights on what I should have learned--something I can keep next to me as I'm finishing my work. It's difficult to read a "how-to" guide, close the pages at the end, and then try to remember ...more
Dwan Tape
I have an unfair advantage in that I know John Dufresne. I can tell I'd love to take a class with him, now, because I enjoyed this book - I found it engaging, intelligent and non-threatening. It really sounds like him, right down to the asides that turn into footnotes. It's not a book for everyone, but it's great for a wanna-be novelist that's looking for some moral support and structure as they actually move into the process of writing that first novel.
Jan 20, 2010 Greg marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
i read an article in a writing magazine by Dufresne who described writing a novel to be like driving through a fog where you can only see a foot ahead of you headlights; it's impossible to make out what's in front of you but you can make it the whole trip that way
Great for aspiring writers and novelists. An excellent read but I am very biased, having taken a couple of his writing clinics in the recent past.
Stephen Hermer
This book starts out very strong, with good advice on the first page.

I am still reading it, so more to follow.
for non-fiction writers who need more than a jumpstart. ickily similar to "writing down the bones"
I really enjoyed this book.
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John Dufresne teaches in the Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing program at Florida International University. He is a French-Canadian born in America.
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“We read novels because we need stories; we crave them; we can’t live without telling them and hearing them. Stories are how we make sense of our lives and of the world. When we’re distressed and go to therapy, our therapist’s job is to help us tell our story. Life doesn’t come with plots; it’s messy and chaotic; life is one damn, inexplicable thing after another. And we can’t have that. We insist on meaning. And so we tell stories so that our lives make sense.” 3 likes
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