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Novel Shortcuts: Ten Techniques that Ensure a Great First Draft

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3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  67 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Proven techniques for writing a high-quality first draft fast!





Novel Shortcuts shows you how to quickly write a first draft that's also rich and engrossing. (It's really possible!) Through detailed instruction and valuable exercises, award-winning novelist Laura Whitcomb addresses everything from premise development to foreshadowing to tone and beyond. You'll uncover sho

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Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Writer's Digest Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Rose
Feb 07, 2016 Rose rated it really liked it
Review to come. Really nice albeit brief look at structure and plotting a novel. Whitcomb uses several examples from her own writing as well as external resources.
Ivy
May 05, 2009 Ivy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fellow Novelests
This book is a must for a first time novelest. It has been so helpful for me. I have tried to read other writing help book but they were too rigid and overbearing with rules and terms that confused me. Whitcomb brought it all down to my level and helped me see the big picture of my novel without ignoring the detail work. I feel much, much better equiped to write a complete novel now. She is so encouraging and freely tells you her tricks for overcoming different moment of writers block. I am more ...more
Laini
Feb 27, 2010 Laini rated it liked it
Shelves: writing-craft
I liked some of her focusing, brainstorming techniques, but her constant bragging gets old. "When I was working on my second novel, that won such and such award..." is repeated several times. OK, we get it. You won some awards. But tooting your own horn multiple times is too much. Mention it once, and I'll be impressed, but after that, meh...
Jennifer Worrell
Apr 18, 2016 Jennifer Worrell rated it it was ok
Shelves: craft
Good, but it seems like one of the first in the Writer's Digest series, like it wasn't too sure about it but went ahead anyway.

It seems the author wasn't too experienced herself when writing it. She can't explain why a few of her own writing exercises work. There a great many excerpts used as examples, which I love, but she often says things such as "this is tricky and you should maybe think twice before using it". I love that she's showing us all sorts of examples of writing, but if this is a b
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Lauren  Librarian
Dec 30, 2011 Lauren Librarian rated it really liked it
I liked this book the most out of all the books I took out from the library on the subject. One star off because the author refers to herself and her own novel a bit too much. In my estimation, the perfect book on writing is more like Writing Down the Bones, where it is unconscious of itself and concentrates on the writing.

My favorite parts where the little challenges or exercises that proposed solutions to writers' problems. One suggested to write your book's jacket blurb before you write the
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Randy
Mar 24, 2013 Randy rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-craft
For me, the best part of this book is Chapter 2, which covers "Deciding How To Tell Your Story." The sole reason I purchased this book is a 10 page section in Chapter 2 that discusses writing "devices."

"Devices" can create a more meaningful story by having a gimmick that unifies point of view, style, tone, and props. Easier said than done, and many will wish more space was devoted to this less-covered topic given the other nine areas discussed have countless books.

Starting novelists will likely
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Izzy
Aug 19, 2012 Izzy rated it liked it
While I appreciate that there were a lot of good writing exercises available, the author did begin to grate on my nerves. As with most authors that write 'How-to' novels, her primary focus is to talk about herself and how many award she's won. No, thank you.

Your novels should speak for yourself. I don't mind if they talk about their work in terms of publication or use it to explain the point they're making but to be frank, I don't care how how many novels they have published and how many awards
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C.R. Sedore
Aug 05, 2015 C.R. Sedore rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-books
I have to say when I bought this book I was in need to know more about what she calls cross-hair moments. I had never heard of that before, but it made much since and my writing has improved significantly. It is the first writing book I ever bought and were the one in my desk I review while plotting my novels. It helped me immensely. I highly suggest it.

Though if you never have taken a writers class before then, this book is critical to buy. It has excellent brainstorming and out of the box thi
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Lit-Creek
Aug 15, 2012 Lit-Creek rated it liked it
Recommends it for: To novice and intermediate writers novelists
Has lots of great practical advice for writers. All you have to do is tune out the author talking about all her great work and you will enjoy.

Finding the core of your novel,
Deciding how to tell your story,
Crosshairs moments,
Shortcut to the scene,
Balancing scene, summary and reflection,
Planning your plot,
Stealing trick from the best,
Fast track to the deeper emotion
What to do when it stinks,
Goals and miracles,
Sabrina
Apr 07, 2010 Sabrina rated it really liked it
This book is not a long or difficult read, so you don't get bogged down in it. The table of contents allows you to skip to the parts you want to read if you don't want to read it straight through. The ideas she imparts are helpful and interesting and she gives good examples of what she's talking about. I think it would be helpful for anyone trying to write a novel or revising a novel for publication.
Jacob Campbell
Dec 13, 2014 Jacob Campbell rated it really liked it
Helpful, especially on how to tie every sentence and paragraph and chapters together with "crosshair moments"...a practical resource you can use as you plot, outline and write. Really complements many writing books I've read.
Michael Carbonari
Sep 06, 2015 Michael Carbonari rated it really liked it
Laura writes and I believe. Her "How To" handbook is full of insightful and practical ways of the trade. Easy to read. Flows well. Makes sense. Made me feel I could begin my book after reading hers.
Fredrick Danysh
Nov 23, 2015 Fredrick Danysh rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
The steps and process of writing a novel are presented in a somewhat different approach that the author calls shortcuts. Suggested readings and exercises are provided. Some writing samples are included.
Heather
Aug 01, 2012 Heather rated it really liked it
Re-reading this excellent book to shape my next project.
Lindah
Aug 10, 2014 Lindah rated it really liked it
Nothing in-depth here, but a good framework for mapping out a novel before you write.
Erin
Oct 21, 2010 Erin rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
After reading the Janet Evanovich "How I Write" this one is dry and boring. It had a few good pointers that I plan on trying, though.
Henry McLaughlin
Jan 07, 2014 Henry McLaughlin rated it liked it
Good overview of the craft.
Exercises and troubleshooting guide are good and helpful.
Malcolm Everett
Malcolm Everett rated it it was amazing
Apr 02, 2015
Mariah
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Jul 10, 2012
Nayad Monroe
Nayad Monroe rated it really liked it
Mar 01, 2011
Nick
Nick rated it it was amazing
Apr 18, 2011
Niki
Niki rated it it was ok
Feb 08, 2013
kelly
kelly rated it liked it
Dec 27, 2009
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Apr 22, 2017
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Jun 14, 2016
Niccole
Niccole rated it it was amazing
May 07, 2012
Danelis Gonzalez
Danelis Gonzalez rated it it was amazing
Sep 25, 2011
Catherine Wong
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Laura Whitcomb grew up in Pasadena, California in a mildly haunted house. She received her English degree at California State University at Northridge in 1993. She has taught Language Arts in California and Hawaii. She has won three Kay Snow Awards and was once runner up in the Bulwer-Lytton writing contest for the best first sentence of the worst Science Fiction novel never written. In her spare ...more
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