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The Weekend Novelist

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  525 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Who doesn't dream of writing a novel while holding on to their day job? Robert J. Ray and co-author Bret Norris can help readers do just that, with this practical and accessible step-by-step guide to completing a novel in just a year's worth of weekends.

THE WEEKEND NOVELIST shows writers at all levels how to divide their writing time into weekend work sessions, and how to
Paperback, 266 pages
Published April 1st 2005 by Billboard Books (first published December 1st 1993)
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Mar 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have this book five stars because, in addition to the original edition of this book, it is the reason I made my first sale. Even if I hadn't, the technical craft of my writing has made leaps and bounds and it would only be a matter of time before I became published. It only makes me want to write more, and work the system again and again. I actually work the character development exercises first, then plot, but the system is easily adaptable to your writing needs. You can certain finish in way ...more
This has some good tools in it, but also, wow, stop telling me what to do
Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
My writing group and I read this over about five months. We read a chapter a week, trying to follow the advice the author gives for someone writing a novel in a year using only weekends. But we used the book a little differently. Many of us had already written a good part of our books and were using "The Weekend Novelist" as a way of helping us edit them.

The author has a lot of great ideas that I think are helpful. He suggests various ways of drawing diagrams as a way of planning out your story,
Dec 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2021
A good description of Robert Ray's specific style of outlining and writing. I picked up some really useful ideas but this probably wouldn't be a great book for beginners. ...more
Juneta Key
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-craft
Many have called this a book for plotters. It is true. Some have said it is heavy on the structure in the writing, which is true.

BUT I consider myself a pantser in writing. I struggle with too much plotting. Plus I am definitely a "right brain dominant thinker" and have had to learn to make left brain thinking and approach stronger by practicing, learning how, techniques, and I still struggle. Check out right brain dominant learning style. http://www.funderstanding.com/brain/l...

This book has a
Kimberly [Come Hither Books]
The Weekend Novelist outlines a systematic, analytical approach to harnessing ideas and turning them into a novel. I thought that would suck the creativity right out of the process, but it manages to find a good balance.
Some of the sections weren't useful for me, particularly some of the character exercises. The plotting section, however, streamlined my path from idea to complete draft, and has completely changed my approach to writing. The section on chapter building was excellent too, and so
Oct 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-craft
Ray's book is, bar none, the very best resource for the person who is just starting to write their first novel. The book takes as its premise that while you desire to write a novel, you also have a life that requires your attention, hence the title, the "weekend" novelist. Saturday and Sunday are spent working through the exercises in the book, writing sample chapters, and at the end of 52 weeks, lo and behold, you have a complete novel. I used this marvelous book as an aid to write my first nov ...more
Brad Huestis
Oct 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is my second favorite craft book. Once you set aside the ridiculous’write a book in a year of weekends’ schedule this book is pure gold.
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This and my other reviews from this year can be found on my blog, drinkingandink.

Popsugar 2016 Reading Challenge: A self-improvement book.

I struggled to find a book for this category. I can safely say it’s a genre I’ve never seriously investigated, and every one I peeked at with the reading challenge in mind made me want to vomit within a sentence or two. But recently I decided that the only thing required to qualify a book as a self-help book is that it imply that only following its recommenda
Dec 06, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Ray's Weekend Novelist is an excellent reference book. However, I wouldn't necessarily use it as a template for writing a novel . . . unless you plan on writing novels similar to Mr. Ray's or to Ann Tyler's "The Accidental Tourist", the novel that Ray uses as an template throughout citing it as a perfect example of a well written novel.

For those new to the daunting task of writing a novel, this book can pigeonhole you into thinking this is the only way to tackling writing. I came across tha
Toi Thomas
I really enjoyed this book and am already applying some of the things I’ve learned from it; plus, some of the things it teaches, I had already taught myself out of instinct and necessity. While I find this book to be quite helpful in the development and writing of a novel, I don’t think it’s for all writers simply because of its restrictions.

I consider this book to be more of a writing method reference guide. A new or aspiring writer, a veteran writer looking to try a different approach (like m
James Heiney
Sep 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book was good as long as you take it with the caveat that your chances in using it to actually finish a novel in 52 weeks are slim indeed unless you are already accustomed to his 'system.' That being said, the book is full of excellent exercises to deepen many aspects of your writing. From character profiles, to themes, to plot and more, he's got many good tips to enrich a new novel or an old one that got a little stale on you. ...more
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I first read this in 1996, and should have listened to his words of wisdom a good deal more. But being more of a pantser than a writer who provides himself with some structure - in those days - I struggled, in due course, with his insistence on more careful preparation. It's a lesson that I'm still learning, even though I've now written and published three novels. Here's what I wrote at the time:
I like Richards' method, which is quite strict and organised, but still allows lots of room for imag
Christine Rains
Dec 08, 2017 rated it liked it
A book on the craft of writing for plotters. The author explains in simple terms the very basics and expands on things with thorough examples. It provides exercises for structuring plot, creating characters, and setting. For writers who have trouble getting started, these would be excellent to try.

The one part I found most helpful was about writing synopses. I've always had trouble with them, and the author provides a strategy that is easy and could maybe make all my synopsis anxiety melt away.
Michelle Cornish
Dec 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I must admit, when I purchased this book, I neglected to read the subtitle and thought Robert J. Ray had written a novel in a weekend. Of course, I wanted to know how he'd done it! Well, it turns out The Weekend Novelist is about writing a novel in several weekends--52 to be exact. Still a huge accomplishment, and even though this book was written in the early 90s, the advice still holds true. I like that every chapter included examples from novels--mostly The Accidental Tourist which I'll now n ...more
John Nelson
This book purports to show beginning writers how to write a complete novel on their weekends within a year's time. Its unlikely many people do that, and beginners probably are best served by practicing their skills on short stories rather than jumping straight to a novel. However, the book does offer a good deal of useful advice on plotting, building scenes and characters, and other elements of fiction-writing. ...more
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nf-writing
A friend loaned me her copy of this book long ago, in hopes that I would start writing fiction again. I loved it! Even bought my own copy. But, I wasn't able to write a book in the time frame Mr Ray has us aim for. It's a great book to use as an exercise & as a reference. And it's written in way that keeps your attention. ...more
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Has helped me by giving tips and tricks to add to my outlining techniques. My outlines are now more detailed, so when I'm ready to draft it's almost like I'm simply cutting and pasting from the outline. Almost. Gets repetitive at time, but I think that's to build that muscle memory. I do recommend it. ...more
Jun 30, 2021 rated it liked it
Some interesting advice, but I wish there had been more or different examples across genres and styles to reach different potential authors. It's structured well, and the 52 week program could work for some authors - it's fairly outdated, but in summary a good process to try (including the "just write"/Nano style of the first draft). ...more
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating book about writing a novel! Lots of interesting exercises and tips.
Hannah Marie.
Dec 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very practical and includes great examples of each step. I’m going to try using this format next year with my newest manuscript.
Jonathan Jones
Jun 05, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Restarted my passion of writing. Easy step by step guide.
S Gregory
Oct 30, 2022 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A waste

I had to force myself through this and found it largely to be a waste of time. Maybe helpful to some but not to me. Useless book.
Aug 11, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: finished, 2011
Interesting guideline for a beginning writer, presenting a concrete program to practice producing a novel.

Restart reading this after abandoning it for some time. Now I know why I abandoned it in the first place. Some of the practical tips could certainly be useful to plan and organize your work.

But honestly, the technicalities really sucks the fun out of it. The diagrams are stiff and formal, would have been better presented as sketches of handwritten ones than with the computerized lines a
Dec 27, 2009 rated it liked it
I've been working on several story ideas for nearly half my life. I never really got any of them promisingly completed. One of my New Year's resolutions is to get ONE Of them completed into either a novel or, preferably, a screenplay.

I've been working on this particular story, on and of, for about five years. Never once getting past chapter three. I'm hoping this book's guidance will help me get past that pothole and finish this book whilst I work and complete my Associate's Degree online. (As
Feb 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this has good guidelines - don't expect to be able to do the tasks in the timeline that he sets down unless:
you have no other life,
have no kids or other family,
eat only delivery food,
send out your laundry
have a maid that keeps you from living in a pigsty
and basically do nothing else except write.

I found it slightly unrealistic in that regard. I kept laughing and saying - this is a man with a 1950's wife who does all the grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry and child care. He onl
Jan 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Granted, this book isn't going to give you everything and I didn't read most of the books they were using as examples. But as a very organized person this book was right up my alley. It was as if someone tapped into the anal part of my mind and the creative part of my mind and said:
See, here's how you can do it!

I have not used this book from start to finish yet, like it was intended to be used, but it still has created incredible work volume and organization for me when writing.
Aug 22, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
I have a love/ hate relationship with this book. At times, I found its instructions to be completing frustrating. However, I think this book could be exactly what I need to plot a novel. This book really broke things down and helped me understand plot points. I'm curious to know if it would work for me.

Mar 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing, five-star
I really like that this book is a guide to take you through the first draft of writing a novel. I enjoyed that there were writing 'assignments' to help you learn in different ways. I plan on reading this again as I start a draft. Really looking forward to writing with this book in the weekly processes described in the book. ...more
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Robert J. Ray is the author of the writing guide The Weekend Novelist and eight Matt Murdock mysteries, including Murdock Cracks Ice.

He has taught college literature, writing, and tennis. He lives in Seattle.

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