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The Complete Handbook Of Novel Writing: Everything You Need To Know About Creating & Selling Your Work (Writers Digest)

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Get advice from the best in the business on every stage of the novel-writing and publishing process! In The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 3rd Edition, you'll learn from established writers about how to make your novel a reality. Discover techniques and strategies for generating ideas, connecting with readers emotionally, and finding inspiration you need to finish you Get advice from the best in the business on every stage of the novel-writing and publishing process! In The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 3rd Edition, you'll learn from established writers about how to make your novel a reality. Discover techniques and strategies for generating ideas, connecting with readers emotionally, and finding inspiration you need to finish your work. This fully revised edition includes an updated marketing section for navigating the unique challenges and possibilities of the evolving literary marketplace. Inside you'll find new essays from dozens of best-selling authors and publishing professionals detailing how to: —Master the elements of fiction, from plot and character to dialogue and point of view —Develop a unique voice and sensibility in your writing —Manage the practical aspects of writing, from overcoming writer's block to revising your work —Determine the key elements for success in every genre —Find an agent, market your work, and get published—or self-publish—successfully You'll also find interviews with some of the world's finest and most popular writers, including David Baldacci, Lee Child, Robert Crais, Khaled Hosseini, Hugh Howey, Stephen King, Dennis Lehane, George R.R. Martin, Jojo Moyes, Anne Rice, Jane Smiley, and Garth Stein. Their insights on the craft and business of fiction will provide you with invaluable mentorship as you embark on your writing journey. The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing is your go-to guide for every aspect of creating a bestseller.


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Get advice from the best in the business on every stage of the novel-writing and publishing process! In The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 3rd Edition, you'll learn from established writers about how to make your novel a reality. Discover techniques and strategies for generating ideas, connecting with readers emotionally, and finding inspiration you need to finish you Get advice from the best in the business on every stage of the novel-writing and publishing process! In The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 3rd Edition, you'll learn from established writers about how to make your novel a reality. Discover techniques and strategies for generating ideas, connecting with readers emotionally, and finding inspiration you need to finish your work. This fully revised edition includes an updated marketing section for navigating the unique challenges and possibilities of the evolving literary marketplace. Inside you'll find new essays from dozens of best-selling authors and publishing professionals detailing how to: —Master the elements of fiction, from plot and character to dialogue and point of view —Develop a unique voice and sensibility in your writing —Manage the practical aspects of writing, from overcoming writer's block to revising your work —Determine the key elements for success in every genre —Find an agent, market your work, and get published—or self-publish—successfully You'll also find interviews with some of the world's finest and most popular writers, including David Baldacci, Lee Child, Robert Crais, Khaled Hosseini, Hugh Howey, Stephen King, Dennis Lehane, George R.R. Martin, Jojo Moyes, Anne Rice, Jane Smiley, and Garth Stein. Their insights on the craft and business of fiction will provide you with invaluable mentorship as you embark on your writing journey. The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing is your go-to guide for every aspect of creating a bestseller.

30 review for The Complete Handbook Of Novel Writing: Everything You Need To Know About Creating & Selling Your Work (Writers Digest)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nelou Keramati

    This book was an absolute god-send! After sending yet another revised version of my first novel out to friends/family/colleagues, I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. No matter how much work I put into the book, my readers would continue to complain of the same recurring issues. As a first-time novelist with no professional training in writing, I was in desperate need of a guide that could clearly articulate: a. What I'm doing wrong, & b. How to fix it. Let me tell you, it is the BEST $20 I've ever s This book was an absolute god-send! After sending yet another revised version of my first novel out to friends/family/colleagues, I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. No matter how much work I put into the book, my readers would continue to complain of the same recurring issues. As a first-time novelist with no professional training in writing, I was in desperate need of a guide that could clearly articulate: a. What I'm doing wrong, & b. How to fix it. Let me tell you, it is the BEST $20 I've ever spent (cause I bought retail...) In over 500 pages, it covers absolutely everything you need, from before starting, to after publishing. Though I had to trim quite a bit of fat (the first 5 chapters were reduced by ~6000 words/24 pages), the novel is flowing so much faster. And although I have lived and breathed the scenes and characters, I find my own heart racing after applying only a few of the techniques! This handbook is invaluable, and I recommend it even to experienced writers. It is a simple, fun read, but it deepens virtually every aspect of novel creation. It provides advice on: Inspiration and ideas Plot and structure Characters Writing methods/styles Genres How to avoid plot holes Write Mystery, Romance, Thriller, etc. Showing, instead of telling Raising the stakes Speeding the pace And much much more! If you're in the process of writing,, absolutely give this book a read before publishing! I guarantee, if you stick to these simple guidelines, you will be maximizing on your narrative's potential. This is the third time I'm reading/internalizing its content, and I was compelled to finally reach out and write this review. Best of luck!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Julie Christine

    Terrific collection of essays from a variety of writers and industry wonks on every aspect of writing and publishing a novel. I'll be dipping into this for inspiration for my own writing workshops and coaching. Terrific collection of essays from a variety of writers and industry wonks on every aspect of writing and publishing a novel. I'll be dipping into this for inspiration for my own writing workshops and coaching.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lexy

    I thought this book was informational

  4. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    This is surprisingly a very dense, thorough, and wonderful collection of essays on writing. It’s not insipid or corny, like books on writing that tell you to let your juices flow and let the angels move you and anyone can write and all that. It’s also not as mean, maybe, as John Gardner. It’s realistic, and I would say it’s probably a better resource for beginning and intermediate writers than a lot of other works. It proves what I often stress, that I’ve learned the most about writing from, and This is surprisingly a very dense, thorough, and wonderful collection of essays on writing. It’s not insipid or corny, like books on writing that tell you to let your juices flow and let the angels move you and anyone can write and all that. It’s also not as mean, maybe, as John Gardner. It’s realistic, and I would say it’s probably a better resource for beginning and intermediate writers than a lot of other works. It proves what I often stress, that I’ve learned the most about writing from, and gotten closer to final, good products and publications with, writers who would generally be pegged as “commercial,” “mainstream,” “not literary,” or “minor.” I think, whether you want to be a literary writer or a commercial writer or a ghost writer, but as long as you want to be both good and published, you stand to learn more from people who publish regularly to good sales and/or acclaim than moody MFA professors who publish a book a decade. Just saying. There is plenty to be learned at universities as well, but this is better. And cheaper. This would be a great text for a course, and I think it has a fair amount to offer students of literature as well. There are a lot of dissections of genre and style and structure, and some matter of fact, pragmatic statements on market, marketing, and reception—i.e. “General fiction is anything written by a male that both men and women read. Women’s fiction can be written by men or women, but is aimed at women, since most American men don’t (yes, you may read ‘won’t’ here) read women fiction writers unless it’s in a genre they can publicly relate to—a genre like mystery.” I think that’s good for any aspiring writer, critic, or student to have in mind. You could just read every back issue of Writer's Digest to get all this, but it's nice having it in one handy Kindle edition (free!).

  5. 5 out of 5

    D.L. Hathaway

    This book was insanely helpful to me. I've used a lot of the tips contained within - especially the idea of keeping a journal as you're writing in order to document where your brain is and possibly some ideas that you aren't yet ready to completely flesh out. The book was chock full of useful tips like that, and examples of things that other writers use to get through the process. It was presented in a format of articles and interviews that made it easy to set down the book when necessary, and t This book was insanely helpful to me. I've used a lot of the tips contained within - especially the idea of keeping a journal as you're writing in order to document where your brain is and possibly some ideas that you aren't yet ready to completely flesh out. The book was chock full of useful tips like that, and examples of things that other writers use to get through the process. It was presented in a format of articles and interviews that made it easy to set down the book when necessary, and then pick right back up from where I left off. I would highly recommend this book to my writer friends!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    This book has advice for every aspect and genre of writing. This is one of the first books I read when I switched to writing fiction, and parts of it were immensely helpful. Some of this advice I've hear again in many other writing books, but others I've never heard again elsewhere despite the fact I found it insightful. I'd recommend this book to beginning writers. This book has advice for every aspect and genre of writing. This is one of the first books I read when I switched to writing fiction, and parts of it were immensely helpful. Some of this advice I've hear again in many other writing books, but others I've never heard again elsewhere despite the fact I found it insightful. I'd recommend this book to beginning writers.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    This books is great for anyone who is either a)already an author, or b)starting to write. Great tips!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jason Armstrong

    Writing good fiction and getting published is hard. Giving crappy advice on how to write is apparently the easiest thing in the world.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lara Lee

    This is a book of articles by various well-selling authors on numerous subjects about writing. Some of the pieces were alright, but some were fantastic. My favorite part of the book were the interviews with various authors such as Margret Atwood and Stephen King. It was really neat to compare the writing styles of these successful people. Some use outlines, some didn't. Some worked a rigid schedule, other worked when they could. I came away with great advice, but also a sense that whatever works This is a book of articles by various well-selling authors on numerous subjects about writing. Some of the pieces were alright, but some were fantastic. My favorite part of the book were the interviews with various authors such as Margret Atwood and Stephen King. It was really neat to compare the writing styles of these successful people. Some use outlines, some didn't. Some worked a rigid schedule, other worked when they could. I came away with great advice, but also a sense that whatever works for you is actually fine too. These writers I had on pedestals came across as real people wrestling with the art of writing just like the rest of us. The main difference is they kept improving and didn't quit. A very inspiring book that works well as a reference tool. You can read just the articles that are interesting or pertinent and save the rest for later.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    I didn't realize this going in, but this is basically a collected edition of many Writer's Digest articles over the years. I found the advice interesting and varied, if sometimes contradictory (I think the different writers tackling the same points was intended as a counterpoint to each other). The advice on plotting and putting the words to the page was the most invaluable, and some of the essays induced eye-rolling. I skipped many of the interviews in the last chapter, but it was fun learning I didn't realize this going in, but this is basically a collected edition of many Writer's Digest articles over the years. I found the advice interesting and varied, if sometimes contradictory (I think the different writers tackling the same points was intended as a counterpoint to each other). The advice on plotting and putting the words to the page was the most invaluable, and some of the essays induced eye-rolling. I skipped many of the interviews in the last chapter, but it was fun learning more about Cory Doctorow's writing process and Megan McCafferty's early success, though that interview seemed oddly dated to include in this edition. Could these essays be used to produce a viable story, even a novel? I don't think so: they generally lack cohesion in nailing down an actual process. However, the book is handy for introducing new ideas to change your approach to idea and plot development, what details to focus on, etc. I'm getting ready to go in for a reread to get a second impression, though at a mighty 528 pages, I doubt it will be from cover to cover.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sable

    An excellent writing guide, suited for writers of all levels. I think this collection of essays and articles will have the most utility to the beginning writer. There's everything a writer who has decided to be serious about it will need. How to get started. How to find time for writing. Pacing. Character. Plot. Theme. Genre. It's all there. It will be almost as good for the intermediate writer. Agents. Publishing. Whether to go indie or traditional. Even the active, professional publishing writer An excellent writing guide, suited for writers of all levels. I think this collection of essays and articles will have the most utility to the beginning writer. There's everything a writer who has decided to be serious about it will need. How to get started. How to find time for writing. Pacing. Character. Plot. Theme. Genre. It's all there. It will be almost as good for the intermediate writer. Agents. Publishing. Whether to go indie or traditional. Even the active, professional publishing writer will get stuff out of this. Marketing. Advanced writing techniques. Movie rights. As an emerging neo-pro with some publications but no big successes yet, I got quite a lot out of it. The whole thing was worth the read, and I think I'm going to keep it in my personal library, rather than pass it along. I will likely reference it again several times in the future. In short: highly recommended to writers of all levels.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Aurora Dimitre

    |4.5 Stars| You know? I really liked this. I really did. I think one way that it really managed to be better than a lot of other books I've read about writing was due to the fact that it wasn't just one writer telling you what to do. It collected essays from a bunch of different authors, and it worked really well. I thought it was an insightful book and a good one, and I'm glad I read it. |4.5 Stars| You know? I really liked this. I really did. I think one way that it really managed to be better than a lot of other books I've read about writing was due to the fact that it wasn't just one writer telling you what to do. It collected essays from a bunch of different authors, and it worked really well. I thought it was an insightful book and a good one, and I'm glad I read it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Aubrey

    A good collection of essays about various aspects of novel writing from start to publication. I found a couple particularly helpful for where I'm at right now, and I know that as I write I'll find others helpful too. Lawrence Block's essay was particularly funny. A good collection of essays about various aspects of novel writing from start to publication. I found a couple particularly helpful for where I'm at right now, and I know that as I write I'll find others helpful too. Lawrence Block's essay was particularly funny.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    Writing tips on a variety of topics from a variety of authors. I thought the one from Richard Russo was great as well as the article on point of view. Just like any other writing book, take the tips that work for you and throw the others out. But this one had lots to choose from.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    This book tells you how to choose how you want to write your book in first person, 2nd, 3rd. Also explains how to get a publisher and what to look for. Talks about plots, characters, etc. Just a lot of useful information in here.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    I found this book the bookshelf, (my real one at home)and it looked interesting, plus I've always wanted to be a writer. I found this book the bookshelf, (my real one at home)and it looked interesting, plus I've always wanted to be a writer.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mark Lewis

    An excellent collection of essays on novel writing.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rachel B

    There was some good information in here, particularly for beginning writers. Each chapter is an excerpt from a different book or a previously published piece, so there are some contradictory statements made by the various writers (about the "best" way to write), but I liked seeing the variety in approaches. Some of the information is the same, however, and therefore repetitive. This was a little annoying. I especially liked reading about various authors' backgrounds and how they first got into th There was some good information in here, particularly for beginning writers. Each chapter is an excerpt from a different book or a previously published piece, so there are some contradictory statements made by the various writers (about the "best" way to write), but I liked seeing the variety in approaches. Some of the information is the same, however, and therefore repetitive. This was a little annoying. I especially liked reading about various authors' backgrounds and how they first got into the business. Very interesting stuff! "Beginning a novel is always hard. It feels like going nowhere. I always have to write at least one hundred pages that go into the trashcan before it finally begins to work. It's discouraging, but necessary to write those pages." p 170, Barbara Kingsolver "The Shakers, whose furniture represents perhaps the ultimate expression of form meeting function, considered the construction of each piece an act of prayer inspired by the grace of God. You may not consider your writing an act of prayer or call upon the grace of God....to inspire you, but if you do, you are honoring the very meaning of the word inspiration, which comes from the Latin inspiratio, meaning "breath of God" or "divine guidance." p 20, Paula Munier

  19. 5 out of 5

    Hots Hartley

    Comprehensive, thoughtful, varied, enlightening, motivating. Some of the individual contributors, like Jane Friedman or Mary Kole, are too strong-armed or hard-headed about writing or habits, but over the course of the entire book, the wealth and diversity of the voices mostly drowns out the unhelpfulness of one or two of the articles. The short anecdotes and interviews with authors in the latter part of the book proved most valuable to me; they provided validation into processes and encouraged Comprehensive, thoughtful, varied, enlightening, motivating. Some of the individual contributors, like Jane Friedman or Mary Kole, are too strong-armed or hard-headed about writing or habits, but over the course of the entire book, the wealth and diversity of the voices mostly drowns out the unhelpfulness of one or two of the articles. The short anecdotes and interviews with authors in the latter part of the book proved most valuable to me; they provided validation into processes and encouraged different approaches to writing. I learned a lot, and some of the chapters (and quotations) were a joy to read!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Tinaburri

    Most of the articles in this book were great. I’d say there were certainly ones I enjoyed more and seemed more useful than others, but you’d expect that as every writer has different strengths and weaknesses. Overall very helpful and gave me several new techniques to use in my writing. I especially liked one suggestion of ‘interviewing’ your characters when you get stuck. If I’m really stuck, I now open a fresh document and take on a role as a psychiatrist with my character, asking her questions Most of the articles in this book were great. I’d say there were certainly ones I enjoyed more and seemed more useful than others, but you’d expect that as every writer has different strengths and weaknesses. Overall very helpful and gave me several new techniques to use in my writing. I especially liked one suggestion of ‘interviewing’ your characters when you get stuck. If I’m really stuck, I now open a fresh document and take on a role as a psychiatrist with my character, asking her questions about how she is feeling in her present moment and what she thinks of the world around her.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    Would recommend to anyone trying/wanting to write a first novel or get published. I've always taken an idea, done a small amount of research and then let the writing lead the way. This book has helped me to structure my research, not just on time and place but also in great depth on: character's, plot, timelines, conflict, suspense and narrative focus. There's so much I'd been missing in my groundwork that was making my novels wobbly on top. I feel my main structure has come together much better. Would recommend to anyone trying/wanting to write a first novel or get published. I've always taken an idea, done a small amount of research and then let the writing lead the way. This book has helped me to structure my research, not just on time and place but also in great depth on: character's, plot, timelines, conflict, suspense and narrative focus. There's so much I'd been missing in my groundwork that was making my novels wobbly on top. I feel my main structure has come together much better.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Clarkson

    Here's the deal: the true test of this book will be the second half of this promise: everything I need to know to create & SELL YOUR WORK. I won't know until I fully finish my work, but I have been implementing several techniques from this book in a new story's conception, and, boy, the process is going so much smoother. Not to mention, the sole act of reading this book - especially the interviews in the back - serves as amazing motivation to continue my craft. I recommend sections of this book Here's the deal: the true test of this book will be the second half of this promise: everything I need to know to create & SELL YOUR WORK. I won't know until I fully finish my work, but I have been implementing several techniques from this book in a new story's conception, and, boy, the process is going so much smoother. Not to mention, the sole act of reading this book - especially the interviews in the back - serves as amazing motivation to continue my craft. I recommend sections of this book to my writing group all the time or bring up its advice for all types of writers. Right now, it gets five stars because I enjoyed reading it. It fills me with inspiration and a sense of distant community with other writers. The structure of the book through the stages of writing - from idea stage to getting published and beyond - is super helpful, feels comprehensive at least right now, and allows me to track where I am in the process. However, if I discover that the tips and tricks don't serve me or, worse, stall my writing or publishing track in severe ways, I will lower my writing and rewrite this review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    J.L. Murray

    I'm giving this two stars because I really liked the interviews at the end (Dennis Lehane, amirite?). Otherwise it would be a one star read. Just a lot of regurgitated drivel, junk writing that might impress a very young writer, but not anyone who's had any experience at at all. Not sure what I was expecting from Writer's Digest, but I'm going to read Zen In the Art of Writing to get the bad taste out of my mouth. I'm giving this two stars because I really liked the interviews at the end (Dennis Lehane, amirite?). Otherwise it would be a one star read. Just a lot of regurgitated drivel, junk writing that might impress a very young writer, but not anyone who's had any experience at at all. Not sure what I was expecting from Writer's Digest, but I'm going to read Zen In the Art of Writing to get the bad taste out of my mouth.

  24. 4 out of 5

    JoAnna

    Three-line review: The longer I write and the more advice I read about writing, the more I'm convinced there's no "right" way to do it. There's some good, practical advice packed into the essays that make up this book, but it's important to realize that even a "complete handbook" doesn't contain a magic solution for creating the next best seller. My favorite essays were the interviews with successful novelists; I enjoy reading about other people's processes and inspiration. Three-line review: The longer I write and the more advice I read about writing, the more I'm convinced there's no "right" way to do it. There's some good, practical advice packed into the essays that make up this book, but it's important to realize that even a "complete handbook" doesn't contain a magic solution for creating the next best seller. My favorite essays were the interviews with successful novelists; I enjoy reading about other people's processes and inspiration.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Emma of Themiscyra

    I really enjoyed this, especially the bits where they start talking about finding agents and the whole publishing process; I'm literally right at this point in my own writing journey and felt like I was going in blind. It's a scary prospect but there are little steps within that are informative and comforting. This was so helpful, and I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who might be writing and/or publishing for the first time. I really enjoyed this, especially the bits where they start talking about finding agents and the whole publishing process; I'm literally right at this point in my own writing journey and felt like I was going in blind. It's a scary prospect but there are little steps within that are informative and comforting. This was so helpful, and I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who might be writing and/or publishing for the first time.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    I use this book as reference for specific aspects of writing. It has many valuable pieces of advise and great examples. However, because it is a collection of essays written by numerous, I did not like some of the authors' writing styles and/or did not find that their essay added anything new to the topic. I use this book as reference for specific aspects of writing. It has many valuable pieces of advise and great examples. However, because it is a collection of essays written by numerous, I did not like some of the authors' writing styles and/or did not find that their essay added anything new to the topic.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Rodrigues

    The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing is remarkably comprehensive. It deals with a range of topics relating to the art, craft and process of writing. It also talks about the various genres present in the writing business and some general advice on writing synopses, book proposals etc. It ends with some advice from a few famous and a few not-so-famous writers.

  28. 4 out of 5

    J. M.

    This is one of my favorite references on writing. It is a curated collection of articles previously published in Writer’s Digest or Writer’s Digest Books on every step of the writing process, from basic storytelling to publication and promotion. I found every page insightful and motivating, even the articles I had read previously.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Madison Ruth

    I hope that this is able to distinguish the fact that I've read two different editions. I read this one many years ago, and I didn't realize when I bought the new one the other day that it was the third edition of this book. I hope that this is able to distinguish the fact that I've read two different editions. I read this one many years ago, and I didn't realize when I bought the new one the other day that it was the third edition of this book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    There's a lot of good information and advice here from professional novelists. It is fairly general, so if you're looking for genre specifics, it might not be the best book to get. Generally speaking though, it is solid. There's a lot of good information and advice here from professional novelists. It is fairly general, so if you're looking for genre specifics, it might not be the best book to get. Generally speaking though, it is solid.

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