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The Complete Handbook Of Novel Writing: Everything You Need To Know About Creating & Selling Your Work (Writers Digest)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  889 ratings  ·  109 reviews
Get advice from the best in the business on every stage of the novel-writing and publishing process!

In The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 3rd Edition, you'll learn from established writers about how to make your novel a reality. Discover techniques and strategies for generating ideas, connecting with readers emotionally, and finding inspiration you need to finish you
Kindle Edition, 2nd edition, 528 pages
Published August 7th 2010 by Writers Digest Books (first published March 1992)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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Nelou Keramati
Dec 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was an absolute god-send!
After sending yet another revised version of my first novel out to friends/family/colleagues, I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. No matter how much work I put into the book, my readers would continue to complain of the same recurring issues.

As a first-time novelist with no professional training in writing, I was in desperate need of a guide that could clearly articulate:

a. What I'm doing wrong, &
b. How to fix it.

Let me tell you, it is the BEST $20 I've ever s
Julie Christine
Terrific collection of essays from a variety of writers and industry wonks on every aspect of writing and publishing a novel. I'll be dipping into this for inspiration for my own writing workshops and coaching. ...more
Oct 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was informational
This is surprisingly a very dense, thorough, and wonderful collection of essays on writing. It’s not insipid or corny, like books on writing that tell you to let your juices flow and let the angels move you and anyone can write and all that. It’s also not as mean, maybe, as John Gardner. It’s realistic, and I would say it’s probably a better resource for beginning and intermediate writers than a lot of other works. It proves what I often stress, that I’ve learned the most about writing from, and ...more
D.L. Hathaway
Nov 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: writers, especially those just starting out
This book was insanely helpful to me. I've used a lot of the tips contained within - especially the idea of keeping a journal as you're writing in order to document where your brain is and possibly some ideas that you aren't yet ready to completely flesh out. The book was chock full of useful tips like that, and examples of things that other writers use to get through the process. It was presented in a format of articles and interviews that made it easy to set down the book when necessary, and t ...more
Feb 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
This book has advice for every aspect and genre of writing. This is one of the first books I read when I switched to writing fiction, and parts of it were immensely helpful. Some of this advice I've hear again in many other writing books, but others I've never heard again elsewhere despite the fact I found it insightful. I'd recommend this book to beginning writers. ...more
Apr 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-writing
This books is great for anyone who is either a)already an author, or b)starting to write. Great tips!
Jason Armstrong
Feb 10, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Writing good fiction and getting published is hard. Giving crappy advice on how to write is apparently the easiest thing in the world.
Lara Lee
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a book of articles by various well-selling authors on numerous subjects about writing. Some of the pieces were alright, but some were fantastic. My favorite part of the book were the interviews with various authors such as Margret Atwood and Stephen King. It was really neat to compare the writing styles of these successful people. Some use outlines, some didn't. Some worked a rigid schedule, other worked when they could. I came away with great advice, but also a sense that whatever works ...more
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
I didn't realize this going in, but this is basically a collected edition of many Writer's Digest articles over the years. I found the advice interesting and varied, if sometimes contradictory (I think the different writers tackling the same points was intended as a counterpoint to each other). The advice on plotting and putting the words to the page was the most invaluable, and some of the essays induced eye-rolling. I skipped many of the interviews in the last chapter, but it was fun learning ...more
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent writing guide, suited for writers of all levels.

I think this collection of essays and articles will have the most utility to the beginning writer. There's everything a writer who has decided to be serious about it will need. How to get started. How to find time for writing. Pacing. Character. Plot. Theme. Genre. It's all there.

It will be almost as good for the intermediate writer. Agents. Publishing. Whether to go indie or traditional.

Even the active, professional publishing writer
Aurora Dimitre
|4.5 Stars|

You know? I really liked this. I really did. I think one way that it really managed to be better than a lot of other books I've read about writing was due to the fact that it wasn't just one writer telling you what to do. It collected essays from a bunch of different authors, and it worked really well. I thought it was an insightful book and a good one, and I'm glad I read it.
Nov 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing, own, inspiration
A good collection of essays about various aspects of novel writing from start to publication. I found a couple particularly helpful for where I'm at right now, and I know that as I write I'll find others helpful too. Lawrence Block's essay was particularly funny. ...more
Mar 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it, 2010, writing
Writing tips on a variety of topics from a variety of authors. I thought the one from Richard Russo was great as well as the article on point of view. Just like any other writing book, take the tips that work for you and throw the others out. But this one had lots to choose from.
Feb 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book tells you how to choose how you want to write your book in first person, 2nd, 3rd. Also explains how to get a publisher and what to look for. Talks about plots, characters, etc. Just a lot of useful information in here.
Aug 24, 2009 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I found this book the bookshelf, (my real one at home)and it looked interesting, plus I've always wanted to be a writer. ...more
Mark Lewis
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent collection of essays on novel writing.
Rachel B
There was some good information in here, particularly for beginning writers. Each chapter is an excerpt from a different book or a previously published piece, so there are some contradictory statements made by the various writers (about the "best" way to write), but I liked seeing the variety in approaches. Some of the information is the same, however, and therefore repetitive. This was a little annoying.

I especially liked reading about various authors' backgrounds and how they first got into th
Hots Hartley
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Comprehensive, thoughtful, varied, enlightening, motivating. Some of the individual contributors, like Jane Friedman or Mary Kole, are too strong-armed or hard-headed about writing or habits, but over the course of the entire book, the wealth and diversity of the voices mostly drowns out the unhelpfulness of one or two of the articles. The short anecdotes and interviews with authors in the latter part of the book proved most valuable to me; they provided validation into processes and encouraged ...more
Sarah Tinaburri
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Most of the articles in this book were great. I’d say there were certainly ones I enjoyed more and seemed more useful than others, but you’d expect that as every writer has different strengths and weaknesses. Overall very helpful and gave me several new techniques to use in my writing. I especially liked one suggestion of ‘interviewing’ your characters when you get stuck. If I’m really stuck, I now open a fresh document and take on a role as a psychiatrist with my character, asking her questions ...more
Dec 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Would recommend to anyone trying/wanting to write a first novel or get published.

I've always taken an idea, done a small amount of research and then let the writing lead the way. This book has helped me to structure my research, not just on time and place but also in great depth on: character's, plot, timelines, conflict, suspense and narrative focus. There's so much I'd been missing in my groundwork that was making my novels wobbly on top. I feel my main structure has come together much better.
Nicole Clarkson
Dec 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here's the deal: the true test of this book will be the second half of this promise: everything I need to know to create & SELL YOUR WORK. I won't know until I fully finish my work, but I have been implementing several techniques from this book in a new story's conception, and, boy, the process is going so much smoother. Not to mention, the sole act of reading this book - especially the interviews in the back - serves as amazing motivation to continue my craft. I recommend sections of this book ...more
J.L. Murray
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
I'm giving this two stars because I really liked the interviews at the end (Dennis Lehane, amirite?). Otherwise it would be a one star read. Just a lot of regurgitated drivel, junk writing that might impress a very young writer, but not anyone who's had any experience at at all. Not sure what I was expecting from Writer's Digest, but I'm going to read Zen In the Art of Writing to get the bad taste out of my mouth. ...more
Mar 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Three-line review: The longer I write and the more advice I read about writing, the more I'm convinced there's no "right" way to do it. There's some good, practical advice packed into the essays that make up this book, but it's important to realize that even a "complete handbook" doesn't contain a magic solution for creating the next best seller. My favorite essays were the interviews with successful novelists; I enjoy reading about other people's processes and inspiration. ...more
Emma of Themiscyra
I really enjoyed this, especially the bits where they start talking about finding agents and the whole publishing process; I'm literally right at this point in my own writing journey and felt like I was going in blind. It's a scary prospect but there are little steps within that are informative and comforting. This was so helpful, and I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who might be writing and/or publishing for the first time. ...more
Nov 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I use this book as reference for specific aspects of writing. It has many valuable pieces of advise and great examples. However, because it is a collection of essays written by numerous, I did not like some of the authors' writing styles and/or did not find that their essay added anything new to the topic. ...more
Cynthia Rodrigues
Jul 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing is remarkably comprehensive. It deals with a range of topics relating to the art, craft and process of writing. It also talks about the various genres present in the writing business and some general advice on writing synopses, book proposals etc. It ends with some advice from a few famous and a few not-so-famous writers.
J. M.
Feb 09, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, writing
This is one of my favorite references on writing. It is a curated collection of articles previously published in Writer’s Digest or Writer’s Digest Books on every step of the writing process, from basic storytelling to publication and promotion. I found every page insightful and motivating, even the articles I had read previously.
Madison Ruth
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I hope that this is able to distinguish the fact that I've read two different editions. I read this one many years ago, and I didn't realize when I bought the new one the other day that it was the third edition of this book. ...more
Nov 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
There's a lot of good information and advice here from professional novelists. It is fairly general, so if you're looking for genre specifics, it might not be the best book to get. Generally speaking though, it is solid. ...more
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