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The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing Paperback – 26 Jul 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (26 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582971595
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582971599
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.7 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 139,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Legal name ALEXANDRIA CONSTANTINOVA SZEMAN.

Author of critically acclaimed and award-winning THE KOMMANDANT'S MISTRESS and 10 other books. See author page Alexandria Szeman for details.

(Formerly writing as "Sherri" because 1st Editor said name "wouldn't fit on cover of book"; after critical success of 1st novel, subsequent editors/agents didn't want to publish books under her real name for fear they'd "lose name recognition" of first book).

Inside This Book

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Fiction writers come up with some interesting metaphors when speaking of plot. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Louise Ferguson on 23 Mar. 2006
Format: Paperback
This book tackles novel writing in a helpful, positive way. Each chapter addresses one element, eg how to create characters. It sets out the issues the writer should be thinking of, points out the errors the novice novel writer typically makes, and explors how to avoid such pitfalls. Examples are given to illustrate the point. It is a very readable book and flows well despite the large number of different authors who contributed to its writing.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Gingerbread on 16 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the best book on creative writing I have ever read and I doubt a better one has been published. A bold claim perhaps, but it offers such a wealth of information in an innovative way, it would be hard to find an aspect of novel writing which is not covered.

Many writing guidebooks offer the same old, rehashed advice which anyone with half a brain would figure out - write every day, know your characters, address theme, bla blah. Anyone with enough interest to pick up such a book knows this already. This book is different; it goes much further. I could be here forever listing the many topics it covers but just a few are: how to structure the novel so that big scenes are evenly spaced, foreshadowed and with a contrasting scene on either side; writing humour; how to write novels as if they were for the screen; writing in different genres; finding an agent/publisher; and so much more. There are also some fascinating interviews with published authors.

The book's main strength is that it is written by many, many successful authors, so we are given a variety of different perspectives on the writing process. The subjective nature of novel-writing means that no one method is 'correct'; however, the authors of many handbooks seems to think their way is the only way of doing things (Stephen King in 'On Writing' springs to mind). This book offers such a wealth of information that we can use the bits that are relevant to us, and discard the bits that, to us, are total rubbish. Another strength is that the articles are written by genuinely successful authors. Many writing guidebooks are written by people who need to write such books because they haven't truly made it as a novelist, which leads one to wonder how much of an authority they are.

In summary: a truly informative, useful handbook, which can be read in snippets as each short chapter covers a different topic. Loaded with practical information and inspiration. Highly recommended.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Mighty Jock on 19 Dec. 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is made up of short articles covering all aspects of writing and publishing. This layout is good as it allows you to choose how you read it, i.e. dip in wherever the mood takes you or just read from front to back. I dipped in as i have kids and so don't really have long free periods.

I really liked the different styles of different authors and found most of the info to be either usefull or at least not condescending or too obvious. All the authors are listed in the index so you can skip straight to your favourite ones to see what they have to say on thier given subject.

I bought a couple of similar type books and this was the one that i kept.

Well worth a look if you want insight into novel writing etc and full of little tips that can help get the fingers going again. I really liked it.
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67 of 71 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 May 2003
Format: Paperback
the complete handbook of novel writing is a fantastic, incredibly useful, inspirational, hands-on advice book. The book spans indeed virtually all aspects of novel writing. Every chapter covers a 'stand-alone' topic, written by a different author giving specific, expert advice. This book is a rich source of information and includes numerous real life examples on what to do, how to do it and what to avoid. I have read numerous books on novel writing in the past year, but none comes close to the value of this book in guiding new and inexperienced writers - and it's handy in that one can zoom in on specific aspects quickly by reading selected chapters. I have had this book for about 2 months and have read it for at least four times. Some chapters even more often. This is a 'must have' for any aspiring writer out there. Absolutely superb - great value and invaluable as a reference, teaching and guide book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Val on 21 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback
Having decided to embark upon writing my first novel, and having never attended any creative writing groups or courses, I found a lot of the tips and suggestions in this book very thought-provoking and practically useful. I was slightly put off by the fact that I do not much enjoy the writing of some of the contributors, but the fact of the matter is that they are published authors and so presumably must know a thing or two about what makes a book publishable, even if they do not all create literary masterpieces.
Probably if you have already attended a fiction writing course you would not find much new in this book, but it would serve as a useful reminder of some of the most common pitfalls to avoid.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By John Williams VINE VOICE on 21 April 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a really good book. It deals with the art, craft and business aspects of writing, each chapter being an article by a different writer, each writer being successful and respected in their own field. As someone who always fancied himself as a writer, never stumped up the commitment to actually do it, but who is now, rather late in life, finally getting round to it, I found the book very useful. It deals with a variety of genres and leaves no stone unturned. It answers some of the questions I'd been asking about writing, and many that I hadn't (but on reflection, should have). It has taught me a lot, and I will no doubt return to it as a reference work in the future. Why only four stars? Well, I didn't think that all of the chapters were equally good. The best ones were inspirational and adaptable to my own interests, style and aspirations, but some seemed to be trying to steer the budding writer towards rather formulaic styles. And the quality of the prose (if this doesn't sound too jumped up, coming from a non-writer) was mixed. But don't be put off by these reservations. Unless you're already Stephen King, there will be plenty of meat here for you.
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