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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow.
I've read several books about writing. This is the most direct, the most practical, and the easiest to read. It's very hard to describe just how positive I am about this book. The strength of it isn't that it gives you secret tips known only by the elite, but that it tells you things that are so obvious that you feel you should have known them all along. Except you...
Published on 10 Mar 2005

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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but not great
I actually read "How to Write a Damn Good Novel II" (aka "How to Write Damn Good Fiction") first, and was so impressed with it that I ordered this guide as well. I was sadly disappointed, although it was interesting to see how his ideas have evolved from the first to the second book (he actually directly contradicts himself on a couple of occasions, although on at least...
Published on 20 July 2007 by CJ Savernake


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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but not great, 20 July 2007
By 
CJ Savernake (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: How to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-By-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling (Hardcover)
I actually read "How to Write a Damn Good Novel II" (aka "How to Write Damn Good Fiction") first, and was so impressed with it that I ordered this guide as well. I was sadly disappointed, although it was interesting to see how his ideas have evolved from the first to the second book (he actually directly contradicts himself on a couple of occasions, although on at least one of those, he does indicate that he has changed his mind since he wrote the first guide).

This book may be useful for the writer who is a complete novice and lacking confidence, as it lays down some fairly direct guidelines that are likely to prevent the follower committing the worst of potential writing sins. However, it's pretty basic stuff, and the more you write, the better idea you'll get of when you can break the "rules" and still intrigue and entertain your readers. I think the most offputting thing about this guide is the number of times you catch yourself thinking of great novels that have enjoyed both critical and commercial success which appear to break the rules he has laid down. This may be why I preferred "How to Write a Damn Good Novel II", as it seems that he has recognised some of his mistakes in the second guide, and also gives illustrations as to how this or that effect was achieved in this or that well known novel.

May be worth a read for context, but I'd recommend skipping directing to his second guide.
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow., 10 Mar 2005
By A Customer
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This review is from: How to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-By-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling (Hardcover)
I've read several books about writing. This is the most direct, the most practical, and the easiest to read. It's very hard to describe just how positive I am about this book. The strength of it isn't that it gives you secret tips known only by the elite, but that it tells you things that are so obvious that you feel you should have known them all along. Except you didn't. But now you do.
Frey covers such banal topics as premise, conflict, character and dialogue and shows you in a few brief examples that it's so very easy to go wrong on these.
Very, very, helpful.
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69 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'bible' for the would-be author, 3 Feb 2004
This review is from: How to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-By-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling (Hardcover)
Having already read John Braine's book and thoroughly enjoyed it, I thought I'd try another perspective and one whih also had good reviews. As soon as I started to read ' How to write a damn good novel' I realised I found THE book to help any aspiring author. It's extremely well written and the rules/structure of writing are very clearly described and very well illustrated by example.
I genuinely feel ready to begin writing now, but I wont be putting this book on the shelf just yet. I can't imagine any novice (novel) writer being dissatisfied with this book.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, 26 Jun 2006
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This review is from: How to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-By-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling (Hardcover)
This book is short, sweet and to the point. I think someone else summed it up by noting, what he tells you seems so blooming obvious but you probably never realised it until you read this book.

His examples are enlightening and humourous, but all of his suggestions are easy to understand and really helpful. Definitely buy this if planning to write a novel.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true work of genius on the art of writing., 9 Nov 2006
By 
Z. Phoenix (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: How to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-By-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling (Hardcover)
This is a fantastic book - my copy has been scribbed in, underlined, circled and written all over. I find it such an invaluable tool to write. Frey conveys his experience perfectly and he writes in a very easy to understand style.

The best parts of this book are the character development, conflict, plot and dialogue sections. I learned many lessons from this book that have improved my writing immensely.
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50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ALL writers should read this neat book, 12 Jan 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: How to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-By-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling (Hardcover)
Hi from the UK I'm a multi-published prize winning author (NOW) but Frey's book was seminal for me and I loved it when I was still finding my way. What I call theme and Frey calls Premise? i never QUITE grasped it until HTWADGN1 and James cracked it for me. I've not looked back since. I thought this book was long out of print and I tell all my students to find a copy. Now I can tell them to buy a nice new one!
Alex Keegan, Bath, England
Mystery Novels (5) and literary short story writer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good and very enjoyable introduction., 8 April 2009
This review is from: How to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-By-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling (Hardcover)
This is a very eloquently written, introductory book about creative writing. The author has a humorous and very enjoyable writing style and you will sometimes find yourself enjoying it perhaps even more than a true novel!!
He puts more emphasis on character creation and gives many useful examples and tips from classic and contemporary literature about how to create interesting character interactions and vivid fictional circumstances that will grab the reader's interest.
Keep a pen and a notebook next to you while reading it as you will find yourself trying to take notes every 3 minutes..
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very useful, 30 Oct 2010
By 
The Emperor (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: How to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-By-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling (Hardcover)
A short book and that is one of its virtues. A very good, and to the point guide to creative writing.
As is usual in these type of guides you could say that he hasn't been all that successful in his own writing career. However virtually all of his advice is useful and he doesn't claim to have all the answers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem, 1 Dec 2008
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This review is from: How to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-By-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling (Hardcover)
The unpromising title belies a very wise book.
I get the impression that James N. Frey has put absolutely everything that is necessary to a novice author into his book and nothing that isn't. It's a completely lean piece of work. What's remarkable then is that rather than reeling off lists of bullet-pointed instructions he's written a charming and witty page-turner. This is really the only book on novel writing that I've read that tells you not only how to write a novel but makes you want to immediately return to your moribund manuscript and pick up where you left off. My first novel has now been submitted...This is the only customer review I've ever written for any product but I really do feel Mr. Frey has got it bang on.
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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, 21 Oct 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: How to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-By-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling (Hardcover)
This book is great, it is very helpfull; full of techniques and the "do's and dont's" of 'dramatic novel writing'. This book not only educated me, but inspired me to crack on with my book, and i believe that it has made me a better writter (not to mention a more possitive one). I am somewhat of a novice writer, (I dont mind admiting it) this book has helped me to structure, plan and execute my stories to great effect. I would advise any writter (novice or not) to get this book, it has something for everyone.
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