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Writing the Blockbuster Novel Hardcover – 1 Mar 2001


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Amazon.com: 53 reviews
42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
The Blockbuster Author's Bible--An Absolute MUST HAVE! 5 Jan 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
If you want to write "serious" literature, look elsewhere. But if you want to write a blockbuster novel, one that will top the bestseller charts and be read for decades to come, then you NEED this book! Not a course in literature or even in novel writing (Zuckerman presumes that you know the basics) this book is a guide to writing the "big book," the book all agents dream of finding, the book that will earn you the million dollar advance, be sold to the movies, etc. While it's not absolutely necessary to read the blockbuster novels Zuckerman cites in this work, it does help, and some familiarity with them is certainly necessary. Knowing example is the best teacher, Zuckerman takes us, step-by-step, through each of the requisite elements of a blockbuster novel--elements that each and every big book share. The book is not for everyone, though. If you aspire to short-story writing or the writing of small, quiet books that may be excellent but will never "take the world by storm" then you'll probably find Zuckerman "too commercial." But if it's commercial you're looking for, this book is truly worth its weight in gold. Thank you Mr. Zuckerman for writing it, and a special thanks to Ken Follett for sharing his early drafts with us. You both did far more than you'll ever know and we appreciate it.
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
An Excellent Resource for Mainstream Novelists 15 Mar 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book should prove very helpful to writers of commercial fiction. It's not necessary to read the blockbusters (Man from St. Petersburg, GWTW, Godfather, Thorn Birds) to follow Zuckerman's arguments, though the novels will certainly help any writer learning the craft. The Follett outlines demonstrate how a serious (and ambitious) novelist crafts his work prior to writing. The outlines give a very detailed look at the novel in its various stages of development, and Zuckerman's analyses of them are dead-on. However, Zuckerman pays too little attention to the other novels: he's not nearly as detailed or insightful of their inner workings as he is with Follet's, which he edited. Moreover, the inclusion of "Garden of Lies," a novel written by his wife, seems to be a ploy to squeeze royalties out of an anachronistic book that few nowadays would consider a blockbuster. But Zuckerman is an agent, after all, so such tactics shouldn't scare die-hards off.
Zuckerman warns that the first-time novelist attempting a blockbuster might be biting more than he can chew, since he he isn't talking about any ordinary bestseller, but a "blockbuster." However, some of his advice (e.g., not to write a historical work) must be taken with a grain of salt because, even as he points out, most of the works he's dealing with are period pieces. In addition, anyone looking for a "how to write" book will not find much guidance here (Zuckerman assumes we know the basics of conflict, structure, character, etc.). Nor does he delve into the matter of how to sell your work.
Overall, an excellent resource to your writer's library, and well worth the price. Writers who aspire to blockbusterdom (or just plain bestseller status) owe Zuckerman a big thanks.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Attention Serious Novelists 23 Nov 1999
By A Writer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Get this book! Even without studying the works Zuckerman references, tools crucial to a novelist are ludicly described. The references give context for his examples.
I read the work three times: the first time, without referring to the material; the second pass, having several of the reference works at hand; and the third, working through some of the examples.
One reviewer understandably was irritated about having to use these references. If you want to pair them down, get only Follet's _The Man from St.Petersburg_. Zuckerman refers to it most often - and the novel is fun too.
Along with Sol Stein's, _Stein on Writing_, Zuckerman's will sit next to Strunk and White on my shelf.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Practically necessary 21 April 2007
By Anthony D Ravenscroft - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I'm torn. Normally, there are books I recommend to absolute beginners, & books I push on those who are about ready for publication. Zuckerman says more than a few things that someone who's just starting out should really ponder, but most of the book is for Serious Students.

In any case, please understand that Zuckerman's agenda is right there in the title: the "Blockbuster" part. This isn't about High Art -- it's about aiming for best-seller status, & improving your chances (however marginal) of getting there.

It's not an "easy how-to" sort of book: he expects you to read, & to study, & to do some actual work at becoming the sort of writer who can turn out a million-seller. To get the most out of this, you really ought to read _Gone with the Wind_ and _The Godfather_ and especially Follett's _The Man from St. Petersburg_.

Literally half the book is taken up by only two chapters (of fourteen) on respectively "The Outline Process" and "Revision" -- the two parts most shunned by the majority of writers who expect fame &/or fortune to fall at their feet.

In particular, creating & evolving an outline is something very likely to set your teeth on edge. Zuckerman does a great job (via Follett) of showing how a good idea becomes great, & then sells a million, by putting the outline through repeated upgrade.

For that reason alone, most hopeful writers will reject it. I'm still struggling with it myself, but I have to admit that a little doggedness here has already improved an idea of mine that I knew would never be fine art, but more & more looks like it could be a great thriller.

If you want platitudes & "support" for your noble writerly efforts, or you want to write nothing but lit'ry fiction... then, yes, this is very much the wrong book for you. If you want to turn out a respectable potboiler, & maybe make it something more progressive, read & follow this book, especially those two chapters.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Writing the Blockbuster Novel FOR DUMMIES!!!!!!! 19 Jan 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The only fault that I found with this book is that it should have been titled "Writing the Blockbuster Novel FOR DUMMIES". I have two BIBLES on how to create a novel-the other is Stein on Writing. Both of these books contain similar content but approach the topic of creation from a different point of view. A budding novelist should read both in order to grasp the key concepts required to create an interesting and sellable work.
Like many people, I find it easier to grasp new concepts when introduced with an example. Mr. Zuckerman introduces a writing concept and then reinforces it by demonstrating how it is achieved in different blockbuster titles. The majority of the references in this book are to Ken Follett's "The Man from St. Petersburg." This book must be read in order to gain the full impact of the examples. I found that if you rent the videos "Gone with the Wind" and "The Godfather" the points of reference to these works can be gleaned over popcorn and soda.
One of the most interesting chapters is dedicated to the outlining process. Mr. Zuckerman reprints several early outlines of "The Man from St. Petersburg." For anyone trying to build a work of fiction, it is comforting to see that even a successful writer such as Ken Follett doesn't get it right the first time.(Second, Thrid...) A must have!!!!!!!!!!
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