Unlike a taxi driver or a neurosurgeon no lives are at risk if you lack basic skills as a novelist but your potential is. Nigel Watts' concise guide to writing a novel is really a training manual providing the techniques required once you have an idea and are on the point of beginning, or have already started, your work. There is little about the commercial side because the message of the book is that you should write for yourself, for pleasure, for the love of language, fantasy and creativity, and that marketing is something to be considered afterwards. Instead, he takes the writer through the creative process from the initial idea and blank paper through to the final packaging for publication via the periods of inspiration or the affliction of writer's block, the pitfalls of stereotypes and clichés. Although the book reads like a series of lectures this is no bad thing for each chapter deals with a different aspect of novel writing: theme, characterisation, plot, style and so on. There is a terrific chapter on `The Personality of the Writer' in which it is beautifully explained how the writer physically and mentally sees the world and how this shapes his or her writing.
In summary, Nigel Watts' guide is didactic without being condescending, and manages to be encouraging and motivational throughout. It is often humorous and is littered with witty and apposite aphorisms from famous authors. There is something here for everyone including, I believe, experienced writers.