For years, readers have turned to Lawrence Block's novels for mesmerizing entertainment. And for years, writers have turns to Block's "Writing the Novel" for candid, conversational, practical advice on how to put a publishable novel on paper.
Also, unlike most of those who write writing books, he doesn't try to tell the reader how to write. He doesn't attempt to impress the would-be writer with elaborate "methods" or "systems" which are worth exactly nothing when a writer is first starting out. Methods and systems which work for one writer inevitably do not work for another. For instance, I do not outline. Some writers (and instructors of writing) would consider this a failing. I do not.
As Block says so eloquently in his book, "The novel is an organic thing."
It's nice to know that I'm not necessarily doing it wrong. In fact, Block lets us know there is no "wrong" way to write one's novel. That's refreshing.
He goes about the business of talking about writing in terms of the easiest way to get the job done and always with the caveat that we writers each come to that business with our own habits, quirks and methods and the trick is to find the best one for each of us. The writer can't depend upon anyone else to find that "first step" in "the journey of a thousand miles" for him or her. It's hard work, and since somebody's got to do it, it might as well be me . . . or you . . . or the neighbor lady down the street with the manuscript hidden in her closet.
A tremendously encouraging and insightful book. I suggest it highly.
Block considers himself a craftsman. Those with high artistic pretensions would be well served to read this book for a dose of reality. The reality is that you should enjoy the work of writing, accepting the fact that "getting published" may not happen, while realizing that writing a novel is an amazing learning experience that you will always prize having done. One thing the book could use is an update for the computer word processing age. Otherwise, highly recommended.