Posted by: oneyearbook | March 30, 2009

Book: How Not to Write a Novel

How Not to Write a Novel

How Not to Write a Novel

This one‘s a strange take on the novel how-to genre. As the title indicates, it’s more about the errors that would-be novelists can trip over during the process than it is about what one should actually do; in practice, that means giving a series of over-the-top examples of what really, really, really bad writing looks like. The book’s definitely targeted at those writing ‘commercial’ novels, as opposed to literary, so just from that point of view alone I wasn’t really looking for too many pertinent tips out of it. In fact there are a number of tips where the authors specifically mention that the would-be novelist not try a particular type of writing unless they want their novel to go all literary.

Maybe it’s a personal thing, but I personally would have preferred to see both ‘don’t-do’ and ‘do-do’ examples. (Although I get that not doing so is meant to be the point of this book.) It’s fine and dandy for a reader to get a sense that yes, the author of this book knows just how bad writing can get. But I think that anyone out there that’s looking to write a work of commercial fiction that is falling into the traps described in this book would benefit from seeing a short sample of how to actually manage the technique in question.

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