Monday, 10 August 2015

Book Review: Write Your Novel! From Getting Started to First Draft by Maggie James


In a nutshell: This book is more than it appears to be.

We've all seen them. The endless help guides, many of them good, some of them just plain awful, others are middling. What's clear from the opening pages is that merely reading this book won't be enough. Of course, what readers will expect from this kind of book is one that is well written and easy to follow.

But Write Your Novel is so much more than that!

This book is simply bursting with great ideas. I thought I had a good writing system in place, but the Pomodoro exercise is excellent, and writers really should put this into practise.

There are things mentioned in the book that I cannot comment on even though I have heard about them and their merits - Scrivener, for example. Maybe I will take the plunge on this one day!

Other elements mentioned, such as NaNoWriMo - well I attempted this in 2014 and wrote 37,000 words in that month. The fact I did not complete the 50,000 challenge did not bother me, because I was working on other writing projects at the time.

But I can see the use of it as a motivational tool.

One of the things I liked most about the book was the use of inspirational but relevant quotes dotted throughout its pages.

This made more sense here than just a random Twitter or blog reference. It meant a writer could put the motivational quote into practise there and then.

I really loved how the author broke down pretty much every aspect of writing. The segment about

"You're a human being. you'll have been through joy and sorrow...."
"...put these emotions into your writing and your characters." (para)

This is good. It may seem like common sense but so many stories I read are ruined because whilst some thought has been put into the story, almost zero effort has been put into the character creation.

There's too many points to really reference here, but I especially liked this one:-

A shiver of fear ran up my spine, making my hair stand on end.

As a horror writer I loved this, (not the line, but the example) but it is so obvious we can as writers write the same thing three times over in the same sentence, when one element would have sufficed.

The book doesn't stop there. The character breakdown is a little over done (political views may not apply to my characters, but may do to yours) but this is better than selling the character short.

Basically, if you are in dire need, or moderately dire need of getting that novel written, this book works as a guide, motivational support, an ass-kicker if you are slacking, and a deep resource guide to make your book the best it can be.

At just over 100 pages long it seems like it may be too short to have anything new to offer. I consider myself reasonably experienced at this writing journey and yet I felt I learned loads from this book.