Thanks, But This Isn't for Us: The Compassionate Guide to Understanding What's Wrong with Your Writing and Leaving the Rejection Pile for Good
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Thanks, But This Isn't for Us: The Compassionate Guide to Understanding What's Wrong with Your Writing and Leaving the Rejection Pile for Good

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  178 ratings  ·  49 reviews
A fun, practical guide that reveals the essentials of good fiction and memoir writing by exposing the most common mistakes literary writers make.

All great works of fiction and memoir are unique-but most bad novels, stories, and memoirs have a lot in common. From clunky dialogue to poorly sketchedout characters, sagging pacing to exaggerated prose, these beginners' mistakes...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 2009)
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David
Oct 11, 2012 David rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: aspiring writers

Sometimes I get the impression that writers believe their stories should be read simply because they wrote them — not because they wrote the best story they could.


So, I have a confession to make to all my Goodreads peeps: I have written a book.

It's in the final revision stage. I've joined a few online critique groups and have had a few people read the entire manuscript and I've gotten generally positive feedback. (As in, "I think this is good enough to be published" feedback.) Only from casual r...more
Lauren Schumacher
My list of life goals (I detest the term "bucket list" as it implies that death will politely wait while we finish) is short but ambitious. Own a home with at least one secret passage. Foster 100 pets (currently stalled on #3). Sew a quilt. Own a horse. See Alphonse Mucha originals in Prague. Never weigh more than 130lbs. Journal 1,000 books...hey-oh, number sixty-seven! Some are important and some are silly; some passive and some active; some inevitable and others nearly impossible. But by far...more
Rebecca N. McKinnon
Got to the end of chapter two before I realized I hadn't learned anything yet. Useful for inept beginners of the writing world. I bought this book expecting to learn about the secrets of the publishing industry but instead discovered I should give myself more credit for the level of knowledge I apparently possess.
Shannon Winward
I've been enjoying this more than most writing help books, as the author, an editor, has a snarky sense of humor. Also she gives a LOT of specific examples of stupid stuff that writers do.

I've noticed, though, that I tend to have one of two reactions to her examples.

1. "Haha, writers who do that are such dorks."
2. "I do that and it's completely justified in my case. This editor is a dork."

Maybe I should take this as a hint to re-think the "deal-breakers" in my novel, which maybe aren't as justif...more
Ryan Mishap
I'll let you in on a dirty secret unknown to me when I began this book: Morrell is going to tell you how to shape and sharpen a product, not a story. The aim here isn't truly better storytelling, but stuffing your creation into a narrow vacuum seal tube that will zoom straight into a willing publisher's printing queue.

Okay, now that you know what it is all about, let's talk about what this is all about. I do not normally read writing books, but this got a good review in Library Journal and I've...more
Shennandoah
This is an absolute must for any aspiring writer. Most books on writing are dry, dull, and focus more on commas than substance. Morrell has an enjoyable style and stuffs every page with useful tips and examples. The "Quick and Dirty" tips at the end of every chapter make it easy to start incorporating new techniques and see immediate improvement in your writing.
Alicia Gregoire
Probably one of the best books in craft I've read. Morrell explains specific problems that arise in manuscripts in a no-bullshit way and ends each chapter with a list of important tips and references. This is a definite must read for every writer.
T.C.
This isn't highbrow. Even and especially a literary writer can learn from it for its no-nonsense approach to what makes a readable plot that keeps people turning pages.
Ali
Jessica Page Morrell's book, Thanks, But This Isn't For Us: A (Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing Is Rejected, had me interested as soon as I saw the title. Tough love writing advice? Sign me up.


The overall tone is part compassionate, bigger part rant. Morell is primarily an editor by trade and I can envision her sitting at her computer, typing emphatically and with a frown, occassionally pausing to mutter, "Ugh, I hate it when they do that."


Scattered throughout are comments you ju...more
Anita
I wouldn't call myself a writer, but as a reader I love these kinds of books because they help me fine tune my sense about whether or not a story is working for me and why. This book made me feel like I was enjoying a lively dinner conversation with a skilled professional. It's funny how often I hear people say that they wish they could get paid for reading, but after learning about all the piles of crappy writing this editor has absorbed through her eyeballs, you'll be grateful that this isn't...more
Joanna Woods
Nov 15, 2013 Joanna Woods rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All writers
Recommended to Joanna by: Darcy Pattison
A must read for all writers.

I read a blog on Darcy Pattison's Fiction Notes which disgusted Jessica's book on why editors reject manuscripts. In Patterson's post she gave some common examples. Curious for more, I ordered the book from Amazon, and I was digging into the reasons why my novel might not be up to par within two days.

Whenever I read a book on craft, I insert my characters into the situations and examples given. Over the six years I've been working on my novel, I can't help but smile...more
A.E. Stueve
I love this book. I am a craft book junkie of sorts, so you know, take my review for what it's worth (I also give nothing lower than a 3 star rating to any books that make their way to my Goodreads list--I don't finish the ones I don't think warrant at least 3 stars). But Morrell writes like a great teacher, critical and hard-edged but with a soft and gooey center that show us she really cares about her clients and all of us reading her book with writing aspirations. Anyway, this is a craft book...more
Jennifer Best
Perhaps my expectations are too high, but when I'm reading a book about the craft of writing, I expect the work itself to be well crafted. This work, however well intentioned, is so poorly written the true wonder is how it found its way to publication at all.

Maybe I'm just too old school, but when I was learning to write (and in the decades of writing since), I was taught that verb tenses within a single sentence should agree with their subjects, and that sentences generally carry on in a singl...more
Jo Case
I don't usually love 'how to' books on writing (or, indeed, anything). But this was an absolute treasure. I loved the author's voice - smart, dryly funny, and no bullshit. And her tips really seemed to make sense. Both practical and enjoyable to read.

I picked up this book when researching an editing course, but it ended up being teaching material of another sort - it really helped me in the process of revising (and plotting) my first book.

I am a member of a cracking writers' group, with two ver...more
Marc
This book was recommended to me by my editor. After reading it, I understand what my editor looked for when she went through my book.

I would say this is almost a must-read for writers. It not only tells you about things that you should look for in your own manuscript but it gives you plenty of examples of what Jessica read. It's exactly what other editors and agents see. There's not really too much to say because this is a good book for writers.

The only downside is that it's very snarky. I'm get...more
Selena
I like the "don't do this" examples, but I wish there were also, "do it like this" examples. And while I like the book, something about it keeps me from getting completely engaged in it. Maybe because it feels like it's going through things too fast. I also wish there were more examples of how to do things right.
John Robin
I enjoyed this book very much. Through her many examples (several funny ones) I was able to appreciate aspects of where my storytelling has gone wrong and beware during both revision and future writing. Very useful for the toolbox.
Nic
I don't have big gripes about this, but I stopped about sixty pages in (out of around three hundred fifty pages), mostly because I felt the advice was stuff I'd seen before. This was true of some of the tips in How Not to Write a Novel, but that book cast them in a new and hilarious light. This one would probably be fine for people who haven't already read one point five gazillion books on writing. I would maybe have liked more concrete examples, though.
Brett Buckley
Get rejected with minimum pain by this book before getting real rejections!
Tiffany
I would call Morrell's work "spunky" rather than "compassionate," but on the plus side there's lots of good advice - and examples - for improving writing.
Wm
I don't know that there's anything here that will come as a huge surprise to fiction writers who have imbibed of the lessons of the craft, but this is still worth reading and possibly even owning for two reasons:

1. Morrell collects a lot of information into this one volume, so it covers everything from scenes to prose to plot to characterization. And it includes helpful checklists and more reading suggestions at the end of each chapter.

2. Morrell also includes lots of examples drawn from (but t...more
Kori
Really good craft books are hard to come by - the authors either sound self gratifying or technical in a way that makes good information not fully accessible to readers. Jessica Page Morrell is one of the best - I've learned as much from her books as favorites of the craft canon like John Dufresne and John Gardner, especially from this new one. She is knowledge, unpretentious, and knows how to making the teaching of craft both fascinating and fun for writers. Perfect for people who are trying to...more
Rachael
Very repetitive but very informative.
Steven
Apr 05, 2010 Steven rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers, teachers
I would rank this as one of the best books for writers on how to prep your writing and work for publication. It's got a great sense of humor in its very succinct directions. I'd recommend this book highly to any writer, professional (for reminders and refreshers) and amateur (for great advice given openly and clearly) alike.

This one's going on my top 5 books to point writers at along with Stephen King's On Writing.
Rob Kennedy
I've read most of this book and it is so helpful and so amusing at the same time. The author is a delightful person. I wish I had this book 10 years ago.

I bought it straight after getting rejected by a publisher and it is opening up my writing in so many ways. I recommend it to anyone that writes. Read this first it will really help with structuring a story.
Book Him Danno
This was an interesting book that made me really think about my writing, I find it hard to edit my own work, I need to read it out loud and hear the mistakes that way, or I have to have someone else read it for me...which is actually quite difficult. This book has exercises and that I found to be quite helpful. I would suggest this books to writers out there.
Shennandoah Diaz
If your prepping a manuscript for submission or have already submitted and have a string of rejections under your belt, this book will help. Morrell gives solid concrete advice on how to strengthen your manuscript, along with a list of deal breakers under each category (plot, opening pages, character, etc.). Its my go to reference whenever its time to start editing.
Nicky
A wonderful, concise, and informative book on the many pitfalls of fiction and memoir writing. Complete with an editor's perspective on the pet peeves, eye-rollers and just plain bad writing that will make the professionals toss your manuscript out, "Thanks, But This Isn't For us" is a great resource for beginning and published authors alike.
P.T. Hylton
Morrell's book takes the usual writing advise and sprinkles in some 'deal breakers' to look out for when crafting fiction. She aims help writers avoid the most common mistakes she has seen time and again as an editor. This is a helpful if not earth shattering guide to the world of writing and revising fiction.
Alex
Practical advice for writing gripping suspense, such as the three act model. Examples abound of what works and what doesn't. I'm inclined to quibble that a lot of HORRIBLE fiction also gets written this way, and much has been published that doesn't adhere to these rules. But, in the end, this was a good, helpful read.
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