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Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print Paperback – 1 Apr 1986


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Product details

  • Paperback: 197 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books; New edition edition (1 April 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898792088
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898792089
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 13.4 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 847,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
If you want to write fiction, the best thing you can do is take two aspirins, lie down in a dark room, and wait for the feeling to pass. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 April 1998
Format: Paperback
Lawrence Block, unlike most of those who write writing books, really has been published, does this stuff for a living, and obviously loves the craft.
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By CT on 30 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really liked this book as the author was clearly basing his advice on personal experience. He was not condescending. Nor was he prescriptive. In fact he went out of his way to encourage the reader to be flexible in the use of advice, especially his own. I would also recommend his books to those who have not heard his name before.
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By Coolismo on 24 Feb. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Quite fine.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 24 reviews
102 of 104 people found the following review helpful
Writing the Novel or Rewriting an Earlier Publication 24 Jun. 2003
By iqhope - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recently ordered and received Lawrence Block's book, 'Writing the Novel From Plot to Print.' IF you are very serious about writing a novel, this small book provides some thoughtful, though verbose information on tips and tricks and should and shouldn't's.
In the same order package, I purchased 'Telling Lies for Fun and Profit -- A Manuel for Fiction Writers.' I was very dissapointed to find that the second book was an almost verbatim version of the 'Writing the Novel...' book.
Keeping that in mind, if/when you order either of the books, go for the cheapest used version you can get of either because Mr. Block tells the same anecdotes, the same thoughts, and information in both books--almost verbatim.
I just wish that on either of the books information, either in Amazon or Printer's Editorial/Description, it would have been noted that the first book was a rewrite of the second (or vice versa).
As to the value of the information that is provided in either book--it's OK, but nothing earthshattering that will help you write a blockbuster novel. The text itself reads easily, as if you were having a conversation with Mr. Block in the same room. Very friendly and easy to understand--nothing you would need a college degree to comprehend.
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
An excellent companion for the first-time novelist 2 April 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been turning to Lawrence Block's books on writing for more years now than I can remember, and I can't recommend them highly enough. However, _Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print_ is more specifically aimed at writers who are attempting (or comtemplating) their first novels than are his other books, and writers who have already faced the start-up questions--like what kind of book is the one for them to write--may find his other books more helpful. Those already familiar with his wonderful _Telling Lies for Fun and Profit_ (my favorite) will also find that _Writing the Novel_ borrows heavily from it, with some chapters almost identical. Nevertheless, if you want a compact, conversational, encouraging, and down-to-earth companion to walk you through your first attempt at writing a novel, this book is excellent: Block even provides support for the post-novel blues you may experience when you've accomplished your goal. If, however, you've already tackled your first novel and still want the benefit of his humorous, sensible know-how, you should seek out the longer, more detail-oriented _Telling Lies_, or _Spider, Spin Me a Web_ (which focusses more on related issues about the writer's life). All are wonderful, but your own needs and experience will dictate which you will find more useful.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Solid Advice 15 May 2000
By oh_pete - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As a young writer preparing to write a first novel I was wary of books such as Lawrence Block's WRITING THE NOVEL, but I'm thankful for the impulse that made me buy it. Block writes with a crisp and straightforward conversational tone. He's neither chummy nor condescending, and I find his advice on outlining particularly useful; he always wanted to write, was someone who started by wanted to see his name in print but who also was dedicated to the craft. Block appreciates that what works for him may not work for everybody, and he offers various examples of productive working styles, but he stresses that in all cases the successful writer is dedicated to the PROCESS of writing and understands the importance of writing steadily.
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.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
If writing is your burning desire, read this book. 24 April 1998
By ritamike@slip.net - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Lawrence Block, unlike most of those who write writing books, really has been published, does this stuff for a living, and obviously loves the craft.
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Nice introduction 6 July 2005
By Writing runs in the family - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I first read this book a decade or two ago. It is an old book. As others have noted, it could use an update in terms of word processing, etc. However, the fact is that I still own the book and look at it more often than just about any other book I've read on writing. There are some great books on writing out there--for instance, I found Orson Scott Card's "Characters and Viewpoint" and Gary Provost's "Make Your Words Work" to be extremely illuminating--but "Writing the Novel" probably provides the best foundation and introduction to writing I've seen. Why? It does more than teaches "technique," which is not always a good thing. Beyond technique, it also teaches you how to think like a writer. It hints at the nuts-and-bolts of a writer's life. It even models what makes for a good attitude (successful) toward the business and the client, which is the reader. More than anything, for those who love quality writing, you will just enjoy reading it. You can certainly move beyond "Writing the Novel" (don't forget to actually write, though!) but you may find yourself coming back to it again and again for understanding of the craft.
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