Book.review

This is a review for S. Evans book Novel Writing Mastery: Proven And Simple Techniques To Outline, Structure And Write A Successful Novel – I finished it 3 days ago and want to share what I learned. Honestly, there was not much new information, most of the ideas I had read somewhere else before. For me that’s a hint that I have done quite a lot of research on the topics of novel building, structure and such.

I like the first few pages where Evans busts some myths about the writing process. Most of it was not news but it is written entertainingly and – even more important – from an unemotionally point of view.

The next topic – on how to create realistic and compelling characters – held only few new ideas, but to recap the already known points is not a bad idea either. Useful for my WIP was the reminder, that each character has some dark side within her personality. I tend to forget that. Same goes for the behaviour within groups – there will always be a hierarchy.

I was a little disappointed about the third and fourth chapter. I was hoping to glimpse some new insights, some new approach to structure development but Evans (just) describes the already known snowflake method and some key components like forewarnings, consequences or goals that one needs to keep in mind when writing character arcs. But there is not much detail to these points and I miss a wider range of examples

Nicely done are the next parts that deal in detail with the beginning (Hook) and the ending (satisfaction). Can’t read enough about those – I think these are key.

What really helped and offered a lot of new information were the pats about publishing and the classification of a book. Especially the part about expected word counts for several different categories.

Best part was the bonus about poetry that comes as an add-on with the book. I enjoyed that very much. Especially since I was thinking about looking into that topic for a while. Evans describes the basics in an understandable manner – I might give it a try soon.

 

Books for writers – advice, tips and tricks

If you read, you learn something new every day.

Currently I am reading How NOT to Write a Novel: 200 Mistakes to avoid at All Costs if You Ever Want to Get Published by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark. Today I finished Part 1 where they describe plot related common mistakes new writers often do. Some of the points they bring up I knew already. Some issues were new to me – or at least I never thought about them in the way they are described and explained. Of course it all makes perfect sense as soon as you read it in the book.

The best points for me – either as new or as a good reminder of something I already knew – were

  • everything I include is my own conscious choice so I better make it count. If I do mention something, it should have some meaning to the story. Otherwise the reader will be disappointed. This includes characters, items, obstacles or other issues I mention
  • if characters got some special traits or abilities which will be important in the plot I can’t wait to the point those become relevant and just dump it on the reader. I will need to weave it in beforehand so it does not come as a “oh – I just save the day with my special skill I never mentioned before now”- moment.
  • I already knew never to repeat information I already gave to the reader. What was new was that I should avoid “scenes with similar settings for a specific issue” too. No déjà vu, please.
  • Don’t dispose of evil adversaries to easily. If they bother my protagonist, they can’t disappear conveniently.
  • Don’t cheat at the end. There are no miracle solutions coming pulled out of thin air. If the lead does not solve the issues in a satisfying way, then the ending is rubbish.

And now – Part two of the book!