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How to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-By-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling [Hardcover]

James N. Frey
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
Price: 13.64 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

How to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-By-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling + How to Write a Damn Good Novel II
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  • How to Write a Damn Good Novel II 13.09


Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (Dec 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312010443
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312010447
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 14.6 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 283,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

As the title says, this is a really valuable book to help any budding authors produce great novels.


Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but not great 20 July 2007
By CJ Savernake TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I actually read "How to Write a Damn Good Novel II" (aka "How to Write Damn Good Fiction") first, and was so impressed with it that I ordered this guide as well. I was sadly disappointed, although it was interesting to see how his ideas have evolved from the first to the second book (he actually directly contradicts himself on a couple of occasions, although on at least one of those, he does indicate that he has changed his mind since he wrote the first guide).

This book may be useful for the writer who is a complete novice and lacking confidence, as it lays down some fairly direct guidelines that are likely to prevent the follower committing the worst of potential writing sins. However, it's pretty basic stuff, and the more you write, the better idea you'll get of when you can break the "rules" and still intrigue and entertain your readers. I think the most offputting thing about this guide is the number of times you catch yourself thinking of great novels that have enjoyed both critical and commercial success which appear to break the rules he has laid down. This may be why I preferred "How to Write a Damn Good Novel II", as it seems that he has recognised some of his mistakes in the second guide, and also gives illustrations as to how this or that effect was achieved in this or that well known novel.

May be worth a read for context, but I'd recommend skipping directing to his second guide.
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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow. 10 Mar 2005
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've read several books about writing. This is the most direct, the most practical, and the easiest to read. It's very hard to describe just how positive I am about this book. The strength of it isn't that it gives you secret tips known only by the elite, but that it tells you things that are so obvious that you feel you should have known them all along. Except you didn't. But now you do.
Frey covers such banal topics as premise, conflict, character and dialogue and shows you in a few brief examples that it's so very easy to go wrong on these.
Very, very, helpful.
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71 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'bible' for the would-be author 3 Feb 2004
Format:Hardcover
Having already read John Braine's book and thoroughly enjoyed it, I thought I'd try another perspective and one whih also had good reviews. As soon as I started to read ' How to write a damn good novel' I realised I found THE book to help any aspiring author. It's extremely well written and the rules/structure of writing are very clearly described and very well illustrated by example.
I genuinely feel ready to begin writing now, but I wont be putting this book on the shelf just yet. I can't imagine any novice (novel) writer being dissatisfied with this book.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect 26 Jun 2006
Format:Hardcover
This book is short, sweet and to the point. I think someone else summed it up by noting, what he tells you seems so blooming obvious but you probably never realised it until you read this book.

His examples are enlightening and humourous, but all of his suggestions are easy to understand and really helpful. Definitely buy this if planning to write a novel.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true work of genius on the art of writing. 9 Nov 2006
Format:Hardcover
This is a fantastic book - my copy has been scribbed in, underlined, circled and written all over. I find it such an invaluable tool to write. Frey conveys his experience perfectly and he writes in a very easy to understand style.

The best parts of this book are the character development, conflict, plot and dialogue sections. I learned many lessons from this book that have improved my writing immensely.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good and very enjoyable introduction. 8 April 2009
Format:Hardcover
This is a very eloquently written, introductory book about creative writing. The author has a humorous and very enjoyable writing style and you will sometimes find yourself enjoying it perhaps even more than a true novel!!
He puts more emphasis on character creation and gives many useful examples and tips from classic and contemporary literature about how to create interesting character interactions and vivid fictional circumstances that will grab the reader's interest.
Keep a pen and a notebook next to you while reading it as you will find yourself trying to take notes every 3 minutes..
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50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ALL writers should read this neat book 12 Jan 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Hi from the UK I'm a multi-published prize winning author (NOW) but Frey's book was seminal for me and I loved it when I was still finding my way. What I call theme and Frey calls Premise? i never QUITE grasped it until HTWADGN1 and James cracked it for me. I've not looked back since. I thought this book was long out of print and I tell all my students to find a copy. Now I can tell them to buy a nice new one!
Alex Keegan, Bath, England
Mystery Novels (5) and literary short story writer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very useful 30 Oct 2010
By The Emperor TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
A short book and that is one of its virtues. A very good, and to the point guide to creative writing.
As is usual in these type of guides you could say that he hasn't been all that successful in his own writing career. However virtually all of his advice is useful and he doesn't claim to have all the answers.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!!!
"How to write a damn good novel" was the best "how to write" book I have ever read. It is friendly, understanding, and easy to follow, yet it educates the reader to the highest... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Daphne S
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
There is nothing wrong with the information in this book - what there is of it, but it is very basic. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Jade66
5.0 out of 5 stars True to its Title!
JNF is a genius. I never read a book on writing as lucid, clear and unputdownable. In my opinion it is inspiring and makes you want to sit down and start to write now. Read more
Published on 2 Sep 2010 by SuMa
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly practical!
I bought 'How to Write a Damn Good Novel 2' in a charity shop for about a pound. I was transfixed by incisive and practical insights and began to see how I could move from my... Read more
Published on 13 July 2010 by Aletheuon
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr Frey! Very good Mr Frey!
I was writing for at least five or six years before I bought this book. The cheesy title put me off. Read more
Published on 25 Mar 2010 by M. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem
The unpromising title belies a very wise book.
I get the impression that James N. Frey has put absolutely everything that is necessary to a novice author into his book and... Read more
Published on 1 Dec 2008 by Red Uakari
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent
This book is great, it is very helpfull; full of techniques and the "do's and dont's" of 'dramatic novel writing'. Read more
Published on 21 Oct 2005
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