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on 28 June 2011
I've spent years looking for a creative release. I've tried various things but time is a major issue with the amount of hours I work. Through the Kindle I rediscovered my passion for reading. The recent e-book phenomena led me down a path of discovery into the life of an independent writer. After reading independent works and endeavouring to make myself useful as a volunteer proof reader I decided to try my hand at writing. The result being, I've begun to consume literature on the subject of writing at a furious pace. Happily, I seem to have found a book that's going to be of considerable use to me. There are plenty I've read that aren't and some of them have very respectable names on the cover. Success doesn't stop even famous authors from stating the obvious in a bland manner page after page.

The first comment is on writing style. This book comes across as light hearted but doesn't contain any fluff. Some teachers lecture while others impart knowledge without you realising. The rigid lecturing style of some works on writing portrays this creative art as a chore from start to finish and attempt to formalise the whole process, which in the end stifles creativity. Roz acknowledges the more difficult aspects of writing and suggests creative exercises to overcome them while satisfying the critical more logical sides of our character. Keeping the critical mind at bay while you create and letting it loose later on is a theme that runs throughout this book.

Some of the exercises regarding the generation of ideas aren't really relevant to me at the moment and won't necessarily match my personality in the future. The use of memory aids and playing games irritates me a little. It reminds of those useless management courses. To be fair the source of a person's creativity is a very personal thing and I'm not trying to generate fresh ideas on a daily basis. However, Roz explains the exercise in such a way that I can adapt the concept to my needs. Roz acknowledges everyone is different and presents her material and concepts as a toolbox for people to use as they see fit.

The section on creating a second draft was a revelation. It may be a common tool that Roz uses but it's the first time it's cropped up in my research. Roz presents rewriting as her preferred method, which suits me down to the ground as I'm a conceptual thinker and I often take a top down iterative approach to problems. I had already decided that was my preferred method after reading the blogs of Andre Jute. An author I've corresponded with on a personal level and respect as a serious intellect. I was happily blasting away at my novel but at the same I was very aware that it had issues. I put these to the back of my mind and carried on. But as I got deeper into the novel I realised the issues were stacking up. The individual problems weren't a worry but managing the inherent complexity of their interaction seemed a little daunting. Reading Nail Your Novel solved all my problems in a few pages with the introduction of the beat sheet. I would've paid the cover price for those few pages alone.

This book methods won't suit everyone but it's a great help if you're a rewriter. This book is brimming with useful practical advice. There isn't any padding to try and justify an extortionate cover price. It's not a lecture by the headmaster; it's one on one tutoring with your favourite teacher. This little book is an invaluable read if you're a new or inexperienced writer.
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on 19 November 2015
Just the book I needed to read right now, in the middle of doing NaNoWriMo and finding it hard not to break the rules and go back and edit what I've already written - a challenge that is alien to me, after decades of writing short stories in which I hone the language as I go along.

Roz Morris's friendly advice, logically organised, presented kindly, and based on heaps of experience, has given me the courage to keep going and the confidence that I'll be able to knock into perfect shape, using simple but clever tools and concepts outlined in this book. I'm particularly looking forward to using her beat sheet to give my debut novel a structural survey and re-engineer it as necessary to make sure it's in top shape, before fine-tuning the characterisation and language.

It's a book that will now have a permanent place on my shelf of how-to books for writers, and I'm sure I'll dip into it again and again at various part of the process. Highly recommended, whether you're new to writing novels or have several already under your belt and just need moral and practical support to keep working to the highest standard.
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on 31 January 2013
This book provides very good advice and guidance for less experienced writers of fiction. The most useful sections are those which emphasise the need for careful planning and preliminary work before the author launches into the finished draft. Although the book covers familiar ground, the advice is very practical and focused. Anyone staring at a blank screen and wondering how it will turn into the latest blockbuster should get a copy! Some of the specific methods proposed will not be found useful by everyone, but the vital message about "preparation before perspiration" is clearly conveyed.
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on 8 October 2014
Does exactly what it sets out to do. I had old drafts for a novel which were in a mess. Within the last couple of months, and using her techniques, I have got my outline in order, have a clear direction for my novel, and am now adding 1500 words a day (in my evenings as I work full time) to my first draft.

I have tried various writing manuals, but many tell you what you should be doing without telling you how. This gives you useful techniques that are completely practical.

Cannot recommend enough.
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on 26 April 2011
On the surface Roz's book is a logical, step-by-step guide to take a novelist through the process of starting (and finishing) a project. I've completed the first five tasks and am using NYN as a constant reference as I plough through the first draft of my third novel.
What made this book work for me was what happened as I worked through the tasks in its first two sections detailing what to do before you start writing. The logical and progressive approach seemed to release the creative side of my brain which took me to places I hadn't imagined at the outset. (I should say that the author makes this an explicit aim of the process.) The end result is the most innovative and exciting project I've embarked on. Whether the rest of NYN maintains the standard and sees me through to the end remains to be seen but, this is almost irrelevant. The first two sections alone make it worth the money.
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on 27 September 2015
Though my copy of this book is looking a little tired, and ever so well read (!) of my vast writing library, all the books in Roz Morris' brilliant Nail your Novel series are part of an elite few that live on my writing desk (bibliophile that I am, it's grand praise indeed). They're such an endless source of inspiration. Love them. Especially fond of this series as the first book (above), was also the first in my truly grasping the concepts of writing novel-length stories, which of course made it more enjoyable, which naturally made me write all the more... Roz has a way of articulating the complex in such an accessible and simultaneously inspiring style. She's also speaking from extensive experience, as both bestselling author, and editor too. Every writer from aspiring to bestselling, novice to noticed, should own this series. Highly recommended.
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on 2 October 2014
I loved this book. It's straightforward and easy to follow. Morris' idea's make complete and utter sense and I can't wait to get started implementing them, especially the cards one.

You can use this book whether you are just starting a novel, thinking about a novel or wanting to redraft your novel. You'll wonder why you didn't read it sooner.
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on 16 May 2014
Unlike most items on novel writing, this book goes into great detail of how to plan the structure of your novel. It gives practical ideas to use to avoid writing yourself into a corner. Parts of the book need reading a couple of times to understand exactly how to adapt the ideas for use. But a very down-to-earth practical guide to novel writing.
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This is the second book I have bought in the Nail Your Novel series and I am glad to say that this book was a useful as the first. It takes you through every aspect of novel writing from coming up with the first idea to publishing. Each step is carefully explained in a way which is helpful without being patronising. There are tips and tricks throughout the book and a number of exercises and games which will help you develop as a writer. These include some which can be used to overcome writers block. Planning is covered as is writing the first draft. This then leads seamlessly to writing the second draft and editing. I particularly liked the section on the beat sheet which can help you to ensure everything in the novel is in the right place.

Although this book would be most useful for those starting their first novel it does not leave out authors whoa re further into the writing process. There are a number of sections on adapting the ideas for developing and polishing your book. Roz Morris herself is an experienced writer and she has used these techniques extensively. This means that they are tried, tested and proven. I would highly recommend this book to all those who want to write or develop a novel.
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on 8 August 2012
Having professionally published a myriad of short stories I've always struggled with the longer form. The main problem with writing anovel is that you can't actually set it out and look at it as a whole, as a composer or an artist can with their work. Even if you're using Scrivener you can't really see how the thing reads, i.e. if it's paced well and has a good rhythm. Even if you print it out, you'd need a pretty big room with a massive floor to spread out 250 sheets of paper, and even then you wouldn't be able to survey the whole, unless you've got superpowers I don't know about.

Here's where NYN comes in handy. Morris's suggestions and exercises help you do the impossible, look at a script or a novel at a glance. You can also dip into different sections of NYN as you need them; you haven't got to read the whole thing back to back or from A to B to C. Unless, of course, you're a world-class procrastinator like moi.

It is important to actually try the various exercises. I didn't undertand how they worked until I got pens and paper and followed Morris's instructions, even though I wasn't sure on a few points it all came clear in the end and was a lot of fun, too - I like her idea of writing as playing. As a result I have rescued a project I've so far spent 2 years on but was going to bin as too unwieldy, and have even broken through writer's block to write more words than I usually do. I'm enjoying the process - thanks to Roz, writing's become fun again.

This is a book full of originality and creativity and warmth: it's like having your own personal cheerleader. Highly recommended, though remember, the exercises won't work unless you use them.
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