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How Not to Write a Novel Paperback – 1 May 2008


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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Collins (1 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061357952
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061357954
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,840,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

This writing how-to should carry a warning: it's the kind of book one reads at the expense of all other responsibilities. (Library Journal)

A great resource and a fun read with a lot of solid advice for would-be novelists. (Publishers Weekly) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

'[a] hilarious, wickedly observed and deeply useful guide'
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Claretta VINE VOICE on 5 May 2009
Format: Paperback
Anyone who has attempted a novel would benefit from reading this and would pick up many useful tips. It has much broader appeal, though - anyone who is interested in fiction will enjoy this as it points out so many of the mistakes that slip through the net and that you find in many published novels. The examples of 'how not to do it' are frequently silly but also hilariously funny, and the joke is brilliantly sustained right through to the end. Don't read it in public, because you will find yourself laughing out loud far too often. A minor comic masterpiece.
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65 of 71 people found the following review helpful By C. Quinn on 5 Mar 2009
Format: Paperback
This isn't a writing course -- it won't help you generate characters, overcome writer's block or find the inspiration to unleash the artist within. But it does contain some very good pointers towards the kinds of fault that will send your manuscript into the waste basket, and it's written by people who know.

I found it intermittently very funny, and usually helpful; some of the recommendations will be familiar to anyone who's read anything similar before, but it's mostly fresh and zippy enough. You'll get through it in a single sitting, but it would make a useful pre-flight checklist for any fiction manuscript.

Certain Amazon reviewers seem to have found this book personally offensive, and the examples of mistakes insulting to unpublished writers. On the other hand, one of those reviewers doesn't know that a 'straw man' is a deliberate misrepresentation of an opponent's position, designed to be easily refuted, and not a deliberate exaggeration designed to make a salient point clearer, which is what the parodic examples in this book are. I'd say they're made so comically awful partly in order to *avoid* offending or discouraging unpublished writers.

The implicit 201st piece of advice here is probably: if you're dreadful enough to find the examples insulting, and you can't see how bad you are even after it's pointed out to you, give up.
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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 23 Nov 2009
Format: Paperback
I found this book extremely entertaining, and it would pass a couple of amusing hours for anyone, wannabe writer or not. I laughed out loud at points, and it certainly does stand out from all the other writing help guides out there.

However, the most notable way it stands out is by not being particularly helpful. There are some useful pointers in here; however, it mainly gives the impression of being an opportunity for the authors to vent some anger towards hopeless writers. The style is condescending, smug and mocking. The fact is, however, that the hopeless writers at whom this book is clearly aimed would have no use for it: they will never be successful, no matter what. Those writers who stand a fighting chance - who have basic ability but need some help - are the ones that benefit from writing guides and this book is not for them. The examples are so clearly ludicrous, and many of the pointers so blatantly obvious, that if you don't already know them you should stay away from fiction at all costs. Therefore the authors have defeated their own objective. They manage to poke fun at, and alienate, the very audience they're trying to sell to.

I think there is a lot of value to this book. However, it should be rebranded in the 'humour' section, as it is definitely an entertaining read rather than a helpful guide to novel writing.
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75 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Adam Graham Malster on 19 Oct 2008
Format: Paperback
This brief little guide to how not to write is two things in one. Firstly, it is a self help book intending to help budding novelists avoid mistakes that get most novels rejected by publishers. Secondly however, this is also a funny book in its own right and could be read and found to be entertaining even if you didn't want to write a novel.

I bought this book as a writing guide and in this respect found it quite useful. In the first few pages I managed to spot some of the areas where I had been going wrong in my own writing. The book as a whole contains a mixture of tips, some that you may think are obvious and others not, but all of them are insightful in some way.

The book is very, very sarcastic which certainly appeals to my sense of humour. At a few places I did laugh out loud and one particular part did cause a few minutes of chuckling. There is also a distinct dislike for the author Ayn Rand running through these pages which I can but applaud loudly.

If there is a downside to the book it is that now I am reading fiction through the lens of Mittlemark and Newman. I've started seeing some really obvious mistakes in the work of famous and respected authors, and I have to try not to make this prevent me from enjoying their work. Oh well, I suppose if published authors aren't perfect then there is hope for us all.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Phyllis Brooke on 4 Mar 2009
Format: Paperback
For those of us aspiring to write the bestseller of the century this is a must-read. Even if we think we know most of it already, the book is highly entertaining and all the more memorable for the often hilarious examples of dire writing which, as writing websites bear witness, are no exaggeration. The blunt, take-no-prisoners approach makes you sit up and review your own work with a more critical and honest eye. Something friends and relatives rarely dare attempt.How NOT to Write a Novel: 200 Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs If You Ever Want to Get Published
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