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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Book Review - How to Fix Your Novel by Steve Alcorn

How to Fix Your Novel

How to Fix Your Novel by Steve Alcorn

From Goodreads:

Have you started a novel, only to get part way into the manuscript and find yourself stuck? Or do you have an idea for a novel, but aren't sure where to begin? Have you completed a first draft, but feel it doesn't quite have the luster of professional writing? 

In this lively and fun-to-read guide, Steve Alcorn shows you the remedies you need to achieve success. Step by step, you'll breathe life into old manuscripts, create new novels that read like bestsellers, and put the spark back into your writing life. 

Topics include: 

Story Structure 
Character Building 
Viewpoint 
Tense 
Voice 
Setting 
Conflict 
Suspense 
Mystery 
Dialogue 
Writing Big 
Beginnings and Endings 
Getting Published 

Whether you're a first time novelist still planning your story, or an experienced author looking for ways to bring your fiction to life, How to Fix Your Novel is the ideal prescription.


Not too long ago, I reviewed another novel writing book - The Mashall Plan (see review here) - I was curious to read other novel writing books just to see what other approaches there are. I know there are no right or wrong ways, but I merely just want to know how others formulate their novels. 

This is an easy read, and I learned much from it! If there is one big take away, is it the difference between STORY and PLOT:

Plot = the physical journey / action
Story = the emotional journey / reaction

As simple as that! What a lightbulb moment! Now I know why I prefer some novels over another - for the ones that I love or have staying power, it really has to have a good balance or both. A lot of the murder/mystery that I read - they have great plot, but hardly a story, hence I had fun reading it (action packed!) but hardly remembered it afterward. I don't care much for character-driven novels, because it so focuses on the emotional side of the story that it doesn't have enough action! 

It also uses examples from other books/movies to illustrate the different aspect of a novel. I also like that, when it comes to writing from different voices, the author wrote the passages 3 times using 3 different voices to show the differences (e.g. the protagonist as an adult, the protagonist as a child, a 3rd person narrator), which in turn, will help the writing to decide which view point is the strongest. 

The author also listed the steps that worked for him to finish a novel. So it provided a great guide, with some easy steps to follow! The methodology used in this book is more flexible, less structured, than that from the Marshall Plan. I can't say one is better than the other, but both give me some great ideas. Maybe this year I would be able to do NaNoWriMo?!


4 Stars - a few chapters didn't quite give me the lightbulb moments than the rest. But I am definitely glad I read this - even if I don't end up writing, this sheds some lights for me when I read.  I wish I had taken a novel writing class back in college! Not that it was offered... 




Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

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