Monday, 19 October 2009

How Not to write a Novel

How Not to Write a Novel is entertaining. (Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark are the authors) By advising that we write in a style that will certainly fail to achieve publication, they pass on sound advice and amuse at the same time.
Cut out the backstory in chapter one, for example. Don't bog down on only two characters (unless you write category romance, I suppose). Don't write a scene twice.
They say these three are the biggest mistakes. As soon as I read the subtitle In which the character's childhood is introduced to no purpose, I realised I needed to do some work on the opening paragraphs of my current wip.
Where the author substitutes location for story, Where the author stops short of communication and In which the reader is unintentionally misled give you a flavour of the style.
Sigh. It is easy to get so immersed in a character's life that other characters get shoved onto the back burner and when they reappear the reader thinks Who is this? Ah, wasn't he in the story about twenty chapters back?
And then there's the last rule. Well, I suppose it must happen subconciously, for no one would set out to write a scene twice, surely? But they say it happens so often. A different angle, setting, characters - but there is no new information, and the original conclusion is unchanged. That's basically a re-write. And even if it does add new information, don't do it if the scene is essentially the same as the original.


Linda Banche said...

Sounds like a good book to read. And that rose is beautiful.

Jen Black said...

Thanks, Linda. Took about 50 pics to get that one! Yes, the examples in the book are funny - and cringe-making as I recognise my faults!

Anita Davison said...

Great photographs, Jen, but you don't need the 'How to Write Stuff' - trust me...