Friday, 9 July 2010

WRITING ADVICE: 179 Ways to Fix a Novel - Peter Selgin


This thoughtful new writing resource breaks down the fiction writer's process into four levels: soul, substance, structure, and style, and shows how misunderstandings at any of these levels can result in failure, and that the key to success lies in avoiding such misunderstandings. The book explores such topics as melodrama and violence, the use of autobiographical elements, plot, point of view, character development, false starts, flashbacks, suspense, symbolism, metaphors, tone, overwriting, and more. 150 to Save a Novel offers technical solutions while simultaneously helping writers to think more deeply, more wisely, and more carefully about their choices, big and small, so they make the right choices - the choices that will result in a work of art.


As an amateur writer (or rather scribbler in my case) I’m always looking for ways to try and fix the problems that I’ve hit in order to get that mythical beast, a finished first draft. So when this offering came my way I felt that I’d have a chance to see where I’ve not only made a hodge podge of the situation but to see about ways to not only patch the error but move the overall story forward.

Unfortunately what this title has to offer really isn’t what you’d expect, it felt more like a title that is being used to allow the author the chance to privately have a dig at a lot of successful authors as well as mock their writing style. Not only did this “writer” proceed to tell everyone exactly what the successful tales have done wrong but told the reader what rule’s they’ve broken and why the title isn’t really literature. The author in my opinion is unfair in their judgement and just because the things that these others have done isn’t exactly text book, writing a novel isn’t either. It’s something that has to be done by the individual and done so that what they end up with is the type of tale that they love to read.

All in all this title was less than helpful and I personally felt it was a case of sour grapes and the old adage of those who can’t, teach.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. I don't appreciate it when writers knock successful people. If they don't like that author's style, that's okay, but they're successful for a reason. "The Screenwriter's Workbook" by Syd Field was recommended to me by another writer and it's helped with structuring my novel and character development. It's amazing how much translates over to any kind of writing.