Staff members from the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley distill their most valued lessons and advice into a collection of essays. It was fun to reStaff members from the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley distill their most valued lessons and advice into a collection of essays. It was fun to read such a wide variety of writers, styles, and approach. The advice ranged from good to great. This is an easy book to read over an extended period because each entry is a self-contained unit. ...more
The Everything Guide to Writing Your First Novel by Hallie Ephron
This book is truly lives up to its title. It is the most comprehensive overview of evThe Everything Guide to Writing Your First Novel by Hallie Ephron
This book is truly lives up to its title. It is the most comprehensive overview of everything a first time novelist needs to know that I've run across. It's written by a veteran author, with several mysteries and nonfiction titles to her credit, so she knows what it takes to become a published writer.
First Novel covers the basics as you'd expect, things like where to get ideas, how to create characters, story overview, research techniques, advice on dialogue, how to approach rewrites, writing groups, and editing and polishing. But it also addresses industry information like book formats, book lengths, publication options, pitches and queries, finding an agent, the "big six" and conferences. There's even a chapter on the importance of grammar with basic tips.
If you're looking for a "how to" title about writing a novel that has it all, look no further than this one. And when you're ready for more, there's three pages of recommended books to take you beyond the basics. ...more
This is an excellent resource book for writers who want to learn more about what goes into the construction of a good novel or short story. Kress is aThis is an excellent resource book for writers who want to learn more about what goes into the construction of a good novel or short story. Kress is a Hugo and Nebula award winner, author of dozens of novels and short stories, and a frequent contributor to Writer's Digest. She knows the territory very well and shares her extensive knowledge clearly and concisely.
The book is divided into the three sections of its title. Beginnings focuses on the first two scenes. From the very start a good story sets the stage for what's to come with conflict, character development, and interesting details. A strong beginning will usually evoke emotion from the reader as well.
By the time a writer completes a draft of the first two scenes, he'll know enough to decide whose story it is, which point-of-view to present, and what the main plotline will be. This information is important for the bulk of the story: the middle.
The Middle is where the writer develops the story's implicit promise—the reason the reader is reading. It may be simply to be entertained, to live vicariously through the story's characters, to learn something new, etc. A strong Middle delivers on the story's promise and dramatizes events to increase conflict, reveal character, and set the forces in motion that will lead to the story's climax. The Middle is the long bridge between the Beginning and the End.
The End is largely the story's climax where the conflicting forces that have been building up during the long Middle finally collide. In novels, the End also includes the denouement, where the final details of the story are wrapped up. Most short stories end with the climax itself.
Kress' book includes three chapters for each of the three sections. Each chapter concludes with exercises to help beginning writers understand the material in greater depth.
Throughout the work, Kress is careful to note the differences between writing a short story and a novel. Her guidelines are equally valuable for both types of stories. She does an excellent job presenting the material and then provides examples to illustrate her points.
Beginnings, Middles & Ends is an excellent guidebook for beginning writers. At 150 pages it's a quick read and a great addition to a writer's reference shelf. Website: http://www.sff.net/people/nankress/...more
This book has a persuasive title designed to grab your attention and sell copies. A more accurate title might be How to Write a Complete Outline for yThis book has a persuasive title designed to grab your attention and sell copies. A more accurate title might be How to Write a Complete Outline for your Novel In 30 Days. But I can understand why they didn't go that way. Spending 30 days writing an outline doesn't sound very exciting.
However, when Karen Wiesner talks outline, she's referring to a scene-by-scene outline that's about one quarter as many pages as the finished manuscript to be. And when you finish an outline like this, writing the book ought to be easy (she says it will be), because you've spent 30 days figuring out the hardest parts.
Wiesner knows her stuff. She developed and refined her method during the course of writing over 50 novels. She describes her process in great detail over about 150 pages and provides pages and pages of helpful worksheets in the back. You can download copies from her website as well.
Wiesner's approach may be too confining for writers who subscribe to the "pantser" approach, but there's enough good advice about story structure and all of the elements that go into writing a novel, that it's still worthwhile, even if you swear you'll never outline.
The outline approach has always had some appeal for me, I just never really knew how to do it until now. This book leaves few if any questions on how to get the job done. I admire Wiesner's work ethic and her business-like approach to her writing career.
Most books about writing are textbooks in one way or another. This one is definitely more like a textbook than others I've read. It's not a light reading experience, but it's packed with useful information and advice from a professional author who knows her subject inside and out....more
This book is the companion monkey, printed tour guide, and pocket personal adviser on how to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, written by no less
This book is the companion monkey, printed tour guide, and pocket personal adviser on how to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, written by no less than the founding father of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) himself.
The official NaNoWriMo is November. But you can choose any month you'd like and follow the advice in this guide. However, it's bound to be more fun when you know there are tens of thousands of other people all over the country—the world even—doing the same thing. You may even find time to connect with some of them via NaNoWriMo's forums or in person through your local Municipal Liaison. This thing gets bigger every year. There were over 100,000 novel participants in 2007 and more than 15,000 of them reached The End.
The book itself is an example of a work that's 50,000 words in length. Others are The Great Gatsby, Brave New World, The Catcher in the Rye, and Of Mice and Men. These are short novels by today's standards. Current popular fiction usually comes in at 75,000 to 80,000 words. But Baty advises what you're really writing is the first draft or your novel. The rewrite you may choose to do after NaNoWriMo concludes will likely add considerably to the word count before it graduates to a finished, polished novel. Or, just do it for fun, or to rejuvenate your creative reservoir.
Most professional writers advise the single most important thing for the novice to do is write, and write some more. So NaNoWriMo may be just the therapeutic immersion opportunity your writing aspiration needs.
In many respects this guide is a sales pitch to entice you to join the horde in November for the annual write-a-thon. Baty does a good job of creating excitement and enthusiasm in his appeal to the inner author, who's always wanted to write a book. But it's also a very practical guide that walks you through the obstacles and challenges you'll face along the way. It's all here, inspiration, support, life logistics and time management, the sweet smell of success, and a week-by-week self-help guide to get you over the most challenging hurdles.
You can read the whole book upfront to gain insights and tips about this wacky exercise, or you can use it as a personal adviser during the NaNoWriMo event itself, reading the individual weekly chapters at the appropriate time.
Baty writes in a friendly, humorous tone, never taking any aspect of the process too seriously except the goal (50K words) and the deadline (30 days). He writes with the conviction of someone who knows this territory inside out. Which is no surprise, since he's completed an impressive eight consecutive NaNoWriMos since starting this crazy marathon in 1999.
The book also includes a healthy batch of asides that offer additional advice related to the current topic at hand. Many are useful observations from previous "winners" who successfully wrote their novels in 30 days.
If you've ever mused about NaNoWriMo or writing a novel yourself, No Plot? No Problem! provides a quick, useful backgrounder into the process. They say the first draft is the hardest, so this may be just the kick-start you need to begin.