Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Book Review #5: Novel Writing

Novel Writing, a Writer’s Digest Yearbook, is 72 jam-packed pages of great information.

“Questions and Quandaries” answers a couple of FAQ such as the typical word counts for short stories (1,500 – 30,000 words), novellas (30K-50K) and novels (55K – 300K); and the fact that writing fiction using historical characters is “safe” because defamation of character and invasion of privacy don’t apply to deceased persons—nor can their heirs sue you for either one. (Brian A. Klems)

“Plotting a Novel Group” describes how to get thorough critiques of characters, structure, dialogue, and POV in novel-length works without spending years in the process. (Marie Lamba)

“Write Like Your Literary Heroes” discusses pastiche—the miming of the content and mannerisms of well-known authors. (Mort Castle)

“What’s Hot in Popular Fiction?” discusses the genres of mystery/crime, romance, horror, thriller/suspense, and science fiction/fantasy. (Michael J. Vaughn)

“Where to Begin” considers how to start a novel: the obvious, at the beginning, and the not-so-obvious, a limited dramatic scene, the distant past, the distant future, and right in the middle. (Nancy Kress)

“Researching Your Historical Novel” lists resources for doing just that: chronologies, guides to everyday life, collections of slang and period words, sheet music collections, cookbooks, travel journals and guides, old magazines, and letters and diaries. (Rosemarie Ostler)

“The Novelist’s Survival Kit” talks about necessary tools for getting started on your book: believing that you have something to say and can say it; notebooks; a way of rewarding yourself for meeting goals; a schedule; formulating a plot and developing characters; refraining from self-doubt; dealing with the urge to procrastinate; not letting research become a form of procrastination as you verify facts; waiting to revise until the second draft; blocking/outlining scenes; and getting the words down—worry about how good they are later. (Jordan E. Rosenfeld)

“Getting Your Acts Together” works on understanding the structure of a novel: beginning/opening/decision to act; middle/development/action; end/conclusion/consequences of action. (Ridley Pearson)

To be continued next week: dialogue, POV, pacing, revision, turning a short story into a novel, making characters real, marketing/platform—and Donald Maas’s take on “Status Seekers and Storytellers”.

FTC disclaimer: I have received no remuneration for reviewing this collection.


K9friend said...

Some very good topics there. Sounds like a "best of..." type thing. My favorite!

Anne Marie said...

Wow!!! All of that information in 72 pages???

I need this book!!!

Thanks for the review, Judy!!!

Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Thanks for mentioning my article, Judy. I also teach online classes for novelists and memoir writers:

(and if you don't appreciate the self-promotion, I understand if you need to delete my link!!)

Judy said...

Thanks for dropping by, Jordan! I try to be very careful about giving credit for the information I share at The Word Place. And thank you for the link. I will add it to my website www.judynickles.com as a resource. If you'd like for me to include a picture with the link and/or give it a particular title, you can send me a jpeg at writer52001@yahoo.com

nlindabrit said...

Thank you for another interesting review. It sounds as if there is plenty of good info here.

Mary Ricksen said...

Thanks for the tips!

Jana Richards said...

This sounds like a really useful book in a quick, easy to read format. Thanks for telling us about it.