Top critical review
34 people found this helpful
Not bad, but not great
on 20 July 2007
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.