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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 August 2014
Writing advice comes in many flavours, and you can find a book that will validate just about any approach to writing. Many people who think they want to read no-holds-barred advice on sharpening their prose are really just looking for that validation, and reassurance that if they just keep chuntering along in their pajamas, sooner or later a doorstep-sized best-selling novel will appear on their hard drive.

How NOT to Write a Novel takes a different tack. Rather than soothing platitudes and worthy opinions regarding the overuse of adverbs, this book explodes into the aspiring author's face with countless examples of (deliberately) bad writing, followed by serious deconstruction of the same.

Anyone who's ever written fiction will recognise their earliest efforts in at least some of these extracts, whether it's painfully crude exposition or deeply unpleasant characters. And anyone who's serious about writing fiction should take a look at this - the examples are harsh, and often hilarious, but the accompanying commentary is often practical and sensible. Even if you don't agree with all of the tips and advice presented in this book, you're confronted with examples that will challenge your ideas, and at least force you to justify your own habits and get to know your own writing a little better.

Not only does my copy sit proudly on my shelf, but I've bought several copies of this for writer friends over the years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2015
On reading this book I realised I was guilty of some of these errors: did I really need to write 'asked' instead of 'said'? Really, a dream? And, what's that you say, the jumping around in time is a wee bit annoying? For a beginner writer, and whether writing for pleasure of profit, it's so easy to get wrapped up in ideas and fail to see mistakes. This book helps you to revise your work with fresh eyes. Personally, I find it really helpful for someone to say, 'Don't write that!' They tell you why it doesn't work. You may not agree with all the advice given, so ignore it, but you probably bought this book because you felt you needed some kind of help. Many creative writing books are about inspiring you to write and others provide you with technical knowledge. This book is your editor: the advice may be brutal, but it's honest. So, ensuring your skin is thick enough and your humour intact, read this and revise your work. In my experience, writing groups and classes are full of exceedingly polite people who will only say positive things about each other's work - or they say nothing at all - so there is a real need for a book like this. It has a 4 star rating because I think it could have been set out to make referencing specific writing errors much easier. Relevant for all prose fiction writing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2010
Although it's good, and lot wittier than most books about writing, it's not that good. One of the things which bothers me is that a fair old few of the mistakes featured in this book are ones that I recognise from bestselling books, which goes to show you can still get published without while making a few bum notes. I would say it's better for someone who's already done a bit of writing before, rather than someone starting out, bcause it could frighten the beginner into thinking they can do nothing right. You have to discover these mistakes for yourself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 October 2009
Very funny book even if you're not writing a novel. I am and have found this the best yet. With extremely funny examples instead of the usual dry advice it gives very apt stories which demonstrate why beginner authors fail to get published. I decimated my manuscript in the light of the advice and now it it is actually readable.

I would highly recommend most of the book, (some parts might not be suitable for younger children) to any parent with a teenager writing stories as part of their educational studies.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 31 July 2009
Humorous? Yes. "How not to write a novel" is about how to write a book with no plot, cardboard people, and using horrible language. And that is funny, but the sarcasm does get a little old, when every one of the 200 mistakes is "attacked" in the same way.

Full of gold nuggets? There are some - hey, not everyone strikes it rich. This is a great little remember-the-obvious-how-to-book, but then again, I guess the obvious mistakes are also the most recurrent mistakes.

All in all, this is a humorous little book, but not the book that will be dog-eared and underlined and used time and time again in my writing endeavours.

Louise.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This book is really about how to write a novel but takes a novel appraoch (excuse the pun). It points out pitfalls that novice novelists make and then demonstrate them by writing passages from a book. It was laugh out loud funny at times and I could see things I was doing although not to the extent of their parodies. I have to say that this approach worked for me as it was easy to see immediately what doesn't work. Each chapter covers a different mistake and then demonstrates it in a number of ways. These are the types of mistakes that have publishers throwing your novel in the nearest dustbin rather than straight to the printing press so better to avoid them in the first place. I appreciate this type of book may not be to everyones taste but for those who are able to have a little gentle fun being poked a them this is definitely a winner. I would highly recommend this book to all aspiring novelists. Suspend judgment, enjoy and definitely learn
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 July 2013
This is one of the most useful writing guides I've ever read. How to Write type of guides tend to fail getting straight to the point - I prefer this one's alternative approach. The examples, while entertaining, are hyperbolic - no one really writes that badly. But once you figure out the underlying problem with each made-up example of horrendous prose, this book becomes a useful tool for identifying why exactly a piece of writing doesn't work. I'd find it more useful while editing a finished manuscript than while beginning to write a novel - it encourages to cut out lots of words and there is little to inspire, so I recommend getting hold of this book after brain-dumping lots of material for your novel, and then using it as a guide for ruthless editing.

xx
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 May 2013
I didn't buy this over Amazon, I loaned it from the library, but I am thinking of buying it when I can. For each example they have a clear heading about what 'it' is NOT to do followed by a short fictional story demonstrating exactly what they mean and then a non-fiction account to explain it if you still need help to understand. My fave is the 'Last Tango in Santa's Village' on page 81; it uses wry humor to get the point across. To serious writers it may not be a 'reference' book to run too when you are in desperate need of help BUT it is a great read and I bet it will be useful for me to remind myself of the big 'don't's' by having it sit on my shelf!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2014
FANTASTIC. Full of helpful, insightful tips; examples of errors written especially for the book, rather than referencing a number of other books (nothing worse than a book that you can only understand once you work your way through a 3-page long reading list); and enough well-placed jokes and witty comments to keep you engaged all the way through. I'd recommend it on the strength of itself as a book alone - even if you have no intention of writing a novel it's still worth a read. Suitable for complete novices and more experienced writers alike, it's just so worth getting. It's so good that I now intend to buy the novels these authors have written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 December 2013
It may not be the best substitute for an M.A in Creative Writing, but a quick study of this will encourage the reader to avoid the worst clangers and yawn-making writing. It also makes for a very amusing read on several levels. It's a quick read, but sound. The advice comes from a real and long-standing knowledge of the writing world, not from a quick-fix manipulator of Amazon ratings. These authors do know their stuff and beginner writers will do well to study their warnings. I'm sure many an agent and publisher will have enjoyed this book too.
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