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on 28 June 2016
Great book, but very cynical / critical, which is good if you are super confident, but by the end of it I wasn't sure if I had any confidence or skills left! (so it loses a star because I need to give myself one for daring to continue to write). Yes it is very funny (I giggled out loud, which is unheard of) but some examples are painful!! The gun pointed at the kitten sums it up. It is very direct in style and goes straight for the jugular. I have read it in tandem with other much more positive ("go for it") books to keep me motivated. Perhaps it is not so much cynical as realistic - 'this is what you think you can do (kitten)...and here is the real world of publishing' (gun). Some really good tips on letters to editors and it answered some little dilemmas I had (especially re. points of view) in a way not covered by other books on the topic. It also made me think really hard about my characters. I am glad I bought it, and will refer to it on those days I am feeling pleased with myself, so that I have less far to fall, but I would not make this the only one you buy on writing a novel.
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on 17 August 2017
I think if you like to write, then this is definitely one of the books for you to read before submitting any material to agents and publishers. This book literally does what it says on the tin: gives you hundreds of "worst case scenarios" and pitfalls for writers to avoid. I would advise reading this after you've written at least a full first draft of your work so you can use it as a reference.
I read this book the day it arrived. It takes a light hearted, comical and no nonsense approach to what agents and publishers see day in day out and how they can be sick of it. I say to read this after a draft because when you're reading it you WILL think about the material you have and if you've applied any of the 200 mistakes into your draft. After you've written your draft and read this then I think it will set you up quite nicely to do the first edit of your work. It'll show you the obvious things that will need changing. I think if you spot anything in the book that you believe you have done, to write them down in order and when editing, work through that written order. It'll bring you a structured layout for an edit.

Luckily, during reading this, I had made very few of these mistakes, but I know that if I had then I would KNOW where to start to edit and develop the writing I did have. Even more, after knowing I hadn't done most of these mistakes, it does show you in ways to improve what you already have. You might be slightly leaning towards one aspect of the "mistakes" such as introducing your character's appearance in a mirror - this can easily be fixed to enhance your character introduction.

This book really does show you the way in terms of laying out every aspect of your written work. It includes character, setting, dialogue etc and each section has a decent amount of things that can be highlighted to you. Of course, it cannot teach you to write to a publishable standard, but it can show you the way to avoid getting any agent or publisher bored of your work within the first 50 pages. I believe that reading this before hand would be beneficial for a budding writer, but when you are consumed with your novel and your first draft, these pointers might fade away.

I feel it can also be beneficial if you are a beta reader/editor for any writer friends you have and can help you give constructive feedback.

I once heard that publishers and editorial assistants have to read this book cover to cover before becoming a fully fledged editor. And I can see why. I am sure that everything mentioned in this book has come across their desks. It really can be a life saver for you if you don't know where to start or when to stop editing. Yes, don't get stuck into that editing loop!

This is not a book for casual reading. Although it can be really funny it's not a book for fiction lovers, I would say this book is specifically designed for those who love to write and want to write better. It certainly highlighted a few areas that I can improve and I have been writing for seven years. I have recommended this book to other writer friends that I have, and while it can be brutal and vicious at times, as essentially you apply your own work to the tips included, it will enhance your skills and give you giggle along the way.

100% would recommend.
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on 14 April 2017
A very entertaining read, the funniest way to chastise readers about how not to write I've ever read. I was giggling most of the time reading it.

I found it very helpful that it came with examples. The old standby, show don't tell, also applies there - telling someone something is bad without showing them why can just result in advice being ignored.

I now always recommend this book to anyone seeking writing advice.
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on 7 December 2015
Really good fun! I laughed out loud on several occasions reading this. It feels like the authors had great fun writing it.
But they also seem to know what they are talking about - there's a lot of good advice here, and once you've read it, you can see where it's all gone wrong for some authors...even some quite well-known ones.
And you can also see how to avoid making those mistakes yourself - which is the whole point, really...
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on 26 May 2015
I bought this as it had had such good reviews and sounded a fantastic combination of humour with education. It was everything I had hoped for. It pointed out the errors that unpublished writers commonly make, illustrating each with little pieces of prose which were very amusing and at times made me laugh out loud. All of the points were very salient and found myself very much wanting to read on, so crunched it in two evenings. It made reviewing the nuances of writing a book, or indeed what to avoid writing, enjoyable. The problems were well observed and cleverly illustrated. I would thoroughly recommend this book to any author.
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on 12 March 2016
Very engaging - read this effortlessly and quickly. The most entertaining 'self-help' book I've ever read - and also genuinely useful. You can share a good laugh with the authors at bad writing. But in my view they are never nasty minded or complacent about it and always seem to suggest that all writers are capable of producing poor work.
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on 7 April 2017
Very wicked, funny book. Love the examples, they are hilarious. And, if you get over the laughter, the tips are very good too.
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Great book, recommended for writers of all genres!
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on 21 June 2017
Entertaining and informative
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on 2 October 2017
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