Happy Fifth Monday of the Month! Sorry–my bad. Hardly something to celebrate–unless you’re looking for an informative and entertaining resource to help you write your own novel. Then you’re in the right place, friend.
The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 3rd Edition, by the Editors of Writer’s Digest, Writer’s Digest Books. 2017. 517 pages.
This tome is an impressive collection of essays on the craft of writing. Lest you think it is simply a regurgitation of articles from Writer’s Digest Magazine, I do not find that to be the case.
Each essay is a relevant and fresh exploration of some specific facet of writing.
It has also been updated from the last edition since so much has changed in the business of writing.
The book is divided into sections and subsections.
Part One addresses the craft of narrative and takes the writer from finding ideas through plot, structure, characterization, craft and style.
Part Two is dedicated to the writing process. From beating blocks to mining for gold; from plotting to pantsing; from creating titles to revising revisions–there is something for everyone from the aspiring writer to the published author.
Part Three addresses genre–how to follow the rules and when to break them. Even literary fiction is included in this thoughtful collection and exploration.
Part Four is everybody’s favorite–NOT. Marketing. This alone is worth the price of admission. Whether you are going the traditional route with the Big Houses or you are planning to self pub, or are interested in becoming a hybrid writer, there’s something here for you. Queries…synopses…and outlines, oh my!
This section has been thoroughly updated from the last edition since marketing has changed so much in a short amount of time.
Part Five is a collection of essays written by seventeen successful novelists. One essay (interview style) even combines responses from both Stephen King (horror) with Jerry B. Jenkins (Christian fiction). If neither of those do it for you, then how about George R.R. Martin, JoJo Moyes, Garth Stein, Jane Smiley, Brad Meltzer, Patricia Cornwell, David Baldacci, and others?
This text is chock full of masterful teaching and entertaining reading for anyone who calls him or herself that best of all names, writer.
You could read this in a week or less, or peruse essays as you wish or need for a shot in the writing arm.
It would also make a great gift since it is appropriate for novel-writers of all starting points.
Foxy Rating Scale: Five out of five foxes
Happy reading and writing, friends.