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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
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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  ·  Rating details ·  330 ratings  ·  84 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
Paperback, 368 pages
Published August 20th 2009 by Jeremy P. Tarcher (first published 2009)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  330 ratings  ·  84 reviews

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Start your review of 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
Jun 13, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Lauren Schumacher
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Shannon Winward
Mar 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Timothy Boswell
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Morrell's book is one of the most helpful writing/publishing guides that I've encountered, in large part because she refuses to pull any punches. She is like that friend you treasure for her brutal honesty--the one you go to not to get cheered up, but to have someone look you in the eyes, put her hands on your shoulders, and tell you like it is.

This isn't a book about the beauty of writing, the joys of a well-told story, or the thrill of connecting with your characters so effortlessly that the
Rebecca N. McKinnon
May 16, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: could-not-finish
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.
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nano
Very helpful. Will probably buy a copy for reference
May 12, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Bianca Orellana
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I checked this one out at the library and renewed it until I couldn't renew it anymore. So much good, useful information! And a good insight into the current industry.
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the second time I have read this book and it's awesome. A very helpful tool when looking at your own writing.
Jessica Evans
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great resource for the writing life.
Jeremy Mitchell
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Funny, concise and filled with honest, punch-to-the-gut guidance, this book is a winner. If you are a writer who cannot (for the life of you) figure out why your manuscript is lagging, missing something or just plain not working; do yourself a favour: read this book! I had been struggling with rewrites for weeks, but after reading one-third of this book, my brain was overflowing with ideas on how to improve the plot and structure of my novel. The rest of the book gave me so (so) many tips on how ...more
Erika Westman
Nov 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
I picked this up at the library, along with a pile of how to write fiction books from the 808.3 non-fiction shelf. Morrell--who works as an agent, editor, and teacher--has a bias for genre fiction and memoir, and she rightly comments that literary fiction is a ridiculously competitive field. I happen to like literary fiction more than Morrell, but that aside, she explains well the principles of good writing and these apply to all fiction. Because Morrell has seen hundreds of manuscripts, stories ...more
Ryan Mishap
Jan 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: guide-books
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
Apr 30, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Jennifer Worrell
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: craft
Really great stuff in here. I recommend reading this BEFORE you get to the editing stage of your work, maybe even before that. Why not get ahead? It's pretty cutthroat in an amusing way, probably because I haven't sent out my novel yet. I found some things I can look at in my current WIP and hopefully make stronger.

There are ideas about creating a bible for your characters, a glossary of literary and publishing terms, and tips on writing in general.
Jan 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Not actually finished with this, but I haven't had it out from the library for several months now. I would LIKE to finish this at some point, or at least buy a copy to flip through whenever I'm revising.

What I did read was very useful, clear, and interestingly conveyed information. Highly recommend to any aspiring writers out there.
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.
Heather Burnell
Jun 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
Awesome book! I recommend it to all my writer friends.
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Henry Gasko
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Aspiring writers who have not read many how-to books yet
Shelves: how-to-write
The author is a writing coach and teacher who has written some books but nothing you might have heard. However that does not mean she is necessarily a bad teacher. In fact I found this to be really good as an introductory book on writing. Nothing that I have not heard before, but it was very good to see it clearly laid out in one place.

Morrell likes to see herself as tough coach. She says quite explicitly that your book is a product to be marketed and sold. And the competition is pretty stiff –
Sheila Jenné
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books on writing I've read. I should warn you that it's harsh. It left me wanting to throw things away. Because, you see, it's mostly what not to do. She won't tell you the secret to writing a novel the right way; she'll only list all the wrong ways.

And yet, I trust her advice more than many others because she doesn't pretend there's one right way. Your plot should involve the transformation of the protagonist...most of the time. You should cut out descriptions....unless
K.F. Silver
Nov 11, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic, craft
I was expecting either an intermediate or advanced craft book.

While there is good information here, and some aptly-worded gems, the vast majority of the book seems to be geared to the beginning writer. The information is too general, and frankly often unhelpful, for much beyond a basic understanding of a wide variety of craft techniques. I'm sure if I were to have read this at the beginning of my writing journey, I would have gained much more from it.

Alas, for me this was a disappointment.
Cage Dunn
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: craft-skills
This is probably step two of ' how to edit' learning curves. And it will drag the veil from your eyes - the ' deal-breakers' are enlightening, and reinforces why readers also won't read if the writer does these things.
Simple, clear, and at times with a quiet humour, this read will help you once you reached ' the end' the first time. And the second time.
Thank you, Ms Morrell
May 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Skimmed this book, but seemed full of helpful info and I probably will want to return to it later.
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Liked this one. Lots of good, honest, actionable advice here. I can't even imagine some of the things the author's had to read over her career. Glad she can help us be better writers.
Caroline Vaught
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, school, 4-stars
I actually thoroughly enjoyed this, there was a bit of repetition though and that bothered me.
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
Very good to excellent
Barbara Hawley
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
This is a helpful book that gives specific examples, lists, and tips that are easy to understand. I think it’s a very good resource for writers to return to again and again.
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is, to put it simply, a book about how to be a better writer.

Morrell, a long-suffering editor, (which is clear, if not from the Preface, then from the way she can honestly and frankly put her finger on what precisely sucks about writing that sucks) breaks down the book by general theme (characters, structure, grammar, etc.) Normally I'd list my favorite chapters here, but I didn't have a favorite chapter--instead, I had a favorite section which was repeated in each chapter: the Deal Breake
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