Lawrence Block, the award-winning crime fiction author, is almost as well known for his instructional books for writers and contributed a monthly column on fiction to Writers Digest for 14 years. Writing the Novel was his first book for writers and remained continuously in print since its original appearance in 1978. But the world of publishing has changed in the past 40 years, and Block has now expanded and updated his original text, bringing each chapter up to date and adding welcome new material on the audiobook revolution, the phenomenon of self-publishing and what perils and opportunities await the new novelist - and the veteran as well.
Unlike many advice-givers, Block doesn't tell you what book to write, or the one and only way to write it. He holds that every novel is different, and so is every novelist; his aim is to give you the tools to enable you to find your own way. Here are some chapters:
1. Why Write a Novel?
2. Deciding Which Novel to Write
4. Developing Plot Ideas
5. Developing Characters
7. Using What You Know...and What You Don't Know
8. Getting Started
9. Getting It Written
10. Snag, Dead Ends, and False Trails
11. Matters of Style
14. Getting Published
15. The Case for Self-Publishing
16. The Case Against Self-publishing
17. How to Be Your Own Publisher
18. Doing It Again
19. Now It's Up to You!
Writing the Novel from Plot to Print to Pixel is half again as long as the original version, and Lawrence Block has managed to retain all the 1978 text while bringing it up to date. As he would be the first to tell you, you don't need this book - or any other - to succeed as a novelist. But thousands of writers have found it helpful. And most of us feel we can use all the help we can get.
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An Excellent Book on Many Levels
Yes. Lawrence Block has updated his book on writing fiction and thus provides the reader with the perfect balance of advice that has stood the test of time (since this book's original printing) as well as advice based on the changing nature of the publishing industry today (with ebooks, etc.).
In addition to sage advice, this is delivered as if a friend was conversing with the listener over coffee. In addition to the writing advice the author peppers the work with anecdotes that make this much more than a text book which it might have turned into in the hands of anyone else.
Since I have yet to read any other books on fiction writing I cannot answer that to the degree that I would like to do, but since this is peppered with anecdotes and biographical elements I would suggest that this compares to any good, readable (listenable) anecdote filled biography.
Mike Dennis is an excellent narrator for this. He does a very good job at reading the different elements "just so" and balances the fine line of not becoming a boring monotoned vocal reader, as one might do when reading "how to" directions, but he also does not make the mistake of becoming too animated and making this, including the lighter elements sound like a stand up act. As I say, in short, he is perfect.
I think my biggest disappointment will be, that if I ever meet the author, Lawrence Block, that his voice is not Mike Dennis' because I really feel like the author was speaking to me via the latter narrating the writer's first person voice in the text.
Dennis also does good work at bringing the written sections to life in appropriate ways. Sometimes a chapter is broken up by the author having a "voice" ask him a question. Dennis appropriately modulates his voice so that the audible listener can discern when this is happening.
Wow. Where do I begin? This book is chock full of useful information, which the author also is careful to present throughout that there is no "one way." He shares what works for him but also provides options that works for others and encourages the reader to find his or her own way. The greatest insight for me is, perhaps, the known and previously unknown aspects of writing that actually prevent me from doing so - too much research, not being clear on the ending of my idea, and more. Through the author's sharing of experiences I have a better sense of the road blocks I put up for myself as well as ones that might come down the road. Like a cheerleader, Block, encourages the writer to write and I now feel more empowered to do just that.
Can you tell that I loved this audio book? I truly believe if you have wanted to write that novel that is in you, or wonder what a writer faces in going through the process, then this is a worthwhile listen for you. I know that I am glad that I obtained this for that purpose!
Encyclopedia of Writing Dos and Don'ts
- Amazon Customer "Story Addict"