Release Date: October 25, 2013
Pages: 234 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Kindle e-book
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Summary (from Goodreads)
The most important thing to know about writing a novel is this: You can do it. And if you've already written one, you can write an even better one. Author and former literary agent Nathan Bransford shares his secrets for creating killer plots, fleshing out your first ideas, crafting compelling characters, and staying sane in the process.
Thoughts on How to Write a Novel
I've always loved words - writing, reading and talking. Growing up, I always thought about what it would be like to write a book. It became one of those thoughts that randomly crosses your mind that then grows into a dream you nurture privately in your heart. Although I write for this blog and for my job, it's not really "creative" writing. Because I'm a research nerd through and through, I can never just start doing something. So, in an effort to push myself to dream a little bigger, I've started reading books about the craft of writing. I chose How to Write a Novel because I've read Nathan's blog before and enjoy his writing/publishing advice. This book was such a great starting point!
Nathan has divided the book into four sections (First Things First, Pen to Paper, Troubleshooting and Staying Sane, and Revising) that each covers a different part of the writing process. "First Things First" talks about things like thinking of an idea that you love, finding your writing style, knowing your genre, etc. It's all the things that come before you ever put "Pen to Paper." The second part focuses more on the mechanics of writing: the first page, embracing conflict, creating a great setting, developing your characters, etc. "Troubleshooting and Staying Sane" addresses some of the problems you might run into and offers strategies to overcome common issues. Finally, "Revising" focuses on what happens after you've written the story. From accepting feedback to knowing when you're done, Nathan offers guidance on what to do once you've written that first draft and how to get your book to a place where it's time to try to get it published.
I haven't read many books on writing, so I don't know how How to Write a Novel compares, but I actually really loved reading this book. It was such a great introduction to writing! Nathan covers 47 "rules" - each chapter is a rule and a simple and direct explanation of what he means. If you've been writing for years, this might not offer anything new or helpful. But if you're just getting started? I walked away feeling like I better understand the different elements of a great novel. In fact, I felt could identify some of the things Nathan discussed in the books that I read afterward!
Whether or not you want to write, I'd recommend How to Write a Novel to anyone interested in learning a little more about what goes into a book. As a reader, it gave me a new appreciation for the way writing is both creative and technical. I read this quickly, highlighted a ton and can see myself using it as a reference. If you're looking for a book about writing, I'd definitely suggest starting with How to Write a Novel!
"Ultimately, conflict is the reason we read novels. It forces characters to make decisions. It tests their strengths and weaknesses. It reveals how they think, how they react to pressure, and what makes them tick. Readers want to see whether the conflicts will be resolved and how the conflicts will be resolved, and they want to see who gets what they want, who wins, and how they win."