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Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing: A Novelist Looks at His Craft [Hardcover]

David Morrell
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

28 Mar 2002
Best-selling novelist David Morrell provides insights and advice learned during 30 years of writing and selling novels - insider secrets that are sure to help writers achieve the next level of literary success, whether they're just beginning or already published! With captivating anecdotes and thoughtful discussion, Morrell explores the basics of the writing craft, from structure and character to dialogue and style, allowing readers to look, first-hand, into the mind of an internationally known best-selling novelist. He also examines how to get published, the business of writing and translating fiction into film.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (28 Mar 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582971439
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582971438
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 16.2 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 792,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"This is the best guidebook to both writing and the business of writing that I've ever read." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

David Morrell is the author of fifteen novels, six of which have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. His novels have sold tens of millions of copies worldwide and have been translated into twenty-two languages. He is best known for his first novel, First Blood, which was later converted into a blockbuster film while six of his other novels have been sold or optioned to film companies.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars INSPIRATIONAL AND INDISPENSIBLE 27 Nov 2002
Lessons From a Lifetime of Writing is an essential guide book for learning the craft of fiction, and David Morrell is a fantastic teacher. It's a bit like Stephen King on Writing, and just as good. The bestselling author (and former professor of American Literature) painstakingly explains in careful detail everything you need to know about dialogue and characters, plotting and structure, pinpointing the pitfalls to watch out for that will spoil your chances of success. His advice on all aspects of writing (including the business side) is excellent. Lessons From a Lifetime of Writing is not only inspirational ... it's indispensible. Don't just read David Morrell's book ... keep it on your desk for reference!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Useful addition to my how to write bookshelf 31 May 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Cover 4/5 Neat idea of writers needing a lighthouse

Contents. Nicely written and proving to be a good page tirner so far. I like the concept of fiction writing ideas not being under the control of the writers as they come from the sub conscious. I suppose I had identied the issues but not put a nadle on them. I read on ...

Alexander of the Allrighters and Ywnwab!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 31 July 2013
By Newflat
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A great book giving well argued reasons behind its practical suggestions on writing a novel. I've read it once and about to read parts again.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A reasonable read 4 July 2013
By Skywood
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Morrell's angle comes from the idea of having a conversation with yourself (through writing a spontaneous conversation) to get through the blocks of plotting a novel and working out problems. This is an interesting idea - and it obviously works for him - but I find the use of a tape recorder generates far less rubbish to have to read through. A good book for those looking for another perspective.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  38 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth taking the time to read 16 May 2004
By Meryl K. Evans - Published on
David Morrell's name may not sound familiar, but his works should spark recognition. Rambo. Brotherhood of the Rose. If you haven't read them, you may have seen or heard of the Rambo movies or TV miniseries. Who can forget Sylvester Stallone as Rambo in his black headband with his exposed sweaty muscular chest holding a machine gun with fury?
Impressive background aside, the knowledge that Morrell imparts is educational and constructive. He tells the story of the writer, Sterling Silliphant of Route 66, who influenced Morrell's career in writing. A story like that sounds dull, but Morrell tells it in a simple and gripping way like the rest of the book.
Morrell provides lessons on literary techniques: plots, structure, and voice. His technique of talking to himself and questioning every aspect of a story is a remarkably easy way to ensure the words and story have purpose.
Most writers don't have time to go to a writer's conference or take a class. This book is a class in itself without the annoying "how to" style of writing. I read this book over a period of several months, absorbing one chapter at a time. Reading it slowly was like getting a mini-lesson each reading session.
Not only does he offers tips on smarter dialogue and overcoming writer's block, but he also talks about the business of writing and what to do when a book is published. "Getting Published and the Business of Writing" alone is worth the price of the book. Every writer who publishes a book will benefit from this chapter.
Whether or not one is interested in screenwriting, the chapter on movies is a humorous adventure as Morrell dives into the red tape-like process for getting Hollywood to bring a book alive on the silver screen. Think writers whose books get Hollwoodified are rich? Think again as Morrell walks through the steps of where all the money goes and it ain't in the writer's pocket.
The genre of Rambo movies isn't my thing, but I'm Morrell's fan after spending time with this book. He's inspiring.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and entertaining. 5 Dec 2003
By Henry W. Wagner - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Anyone who's spoken at length with David Morrell knows him to be
insightful, and seldom lacking for amusing anecdotes. The engaging former professor is a learned man, eager to impart the benefits of his considerable wealth of knowledge and experience to those who are interested.
In keeping with his reflective nature and his instinctive desire to educate, Morrell has penned a useful and entertaining combination memoir and self help book called LESSONS FROM A LIFETIME OF WRITING: A NOVELIST LOOKS AT HIS CRAFT. In its pages, Morrell taps four decades of writing experience for the benefit of aspiring writers. He thoroughly explores both
the act and the business of writing, methodically covering the basics of everything from plot construction to contract negotiation. Morrell truly believes that there is no such thing as a stupid question, as he painstakingly answers many inquiries that most writers impatiently dismiss out of hand. A good example is the oft asked, "Where do you get your ideas?" a question that seems to cause many writers physical pain. Always
the patient educator, Morrell takes the question seriously, detailing the method by which he transforms a kernel of an idea into an engrossing plot.
It's this attitude that distinguishes LESSONS from other writing guides, making this user-friendly tome an invaluable addition to anyone's library. Not so much a "How To" as it is a "How I" book, it provides insights into a working writer's mind and habits, showing how one author tackles problems and overcomes challenges. There is great inspiration and encouragement here for practicing writers and plenty of intriguing particulars for those who are merely fascinated by the writing process.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warm and Encouraging 24 April 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is not a traditional "how to," with step by step instruction. Don't look for that here. Rather, this is like getting to sit down for an evening with a real pro, and have him share the most important things he's learned over the years.
It is encouraging, even for published writers. I am comforted by the fact that Morrell still gets the "shivers" at the start of any project. And knows that there is a way out. You'll find all sorts of nuggets you can put to use.
Morrell has proven his stuff, by writing books that try to do a little more than the traditional thriller conventions. Thanks, David, for your voice, and for this book.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Writers Old and New 24 May 2002
By Tamara Thorne - Published on
I've been a published novelist for over a decade and David Morrell's book still managed to teach me things I didn't know about my craft. His style is personable, his anecdotes delightful, and his insight and instruction invaluable to anyone interested in writing and publishing. He boldly and bluntly begins by addressing the big question: WHY do you want to be a writer? Answer that one correctly, then get to work with the help of this terrific book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lessons From a Lifetime of Writing 14 April 2002
By A Customer - Published on
After recently meeting David at a conference, I bought and read his book, FIREFLIES. Written with a mix of fiction and fact, it touched my heart so deeply that I found myself searching out his other work. Since 1988, I've had short stories published, signed with a literary agent and also a screenplay agent, but eventually gave up writing fiction altogether in 1997. Then because my new line of work led me to write an autobiography, I chose his book, LESSONS FROM A LIFETIME OF WRITING. After reading each of his chapters, I found myself critiquing my own work from his examples. Though his book is based on helping the fiction writer, I found much helpful information concerning the craft of writing that applied to both fiction and nonfiction. It was such an inspiration that I have decided to return to fiction writing, my true passion! My favorite part in the entire book is when he asks the question; Why do you want to be a writer? And his answer says it all. For those of you who had to put your fiction writing on hold for one reason or another, David Morrell's book will re-ignite your passion for writing and have your mind dancing with new ideas long before you read the last page.
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