The Naïve and the Sentimentalist Novelist by Orhan Pamuk

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I must confess… I did it again. I started reading a book in one language and finished it in another one with lots of swapping between the two along the way. I did it with George Elliot’s The Mill on … Continue reading

Book Review: Outlining Your Novel by K. M. Weiland

book review outlining novel K. M. WeilandBook Review: Outlining Your Novel by K. M. Weiland

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K. M. Weiland entered my life at the right time and in the right way. The right time part is all about learning to write in an orderly fashion before I make a mess. It happens, you know, especially if you are new in this writing business. And I am new! The right way part? This is really cool: I won the book! Along with Katie’s Structuring Your Novel book. Give-aways usually don’t cover Australia but I was lucky this time. My booksarrived, smelling like strawberries and they were both signed. Jealous?

Book Review Outlining Novel K. M. Weiland

I was convinced that I would be an outliner even before I read Outlining Your Novel. It suits my personality; I am Virgo and I thrive in orderly environments. However, if I needed any further convincing or just plain reassurance, Outlining Your Novel did that, too.

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success covers:

• Benefits and misconceptions about outlining
• Choosing the right type of outline for you
• Different outlining tools
• Brainstorming ideas
• Creating and developing characters
• Organising your scenes
• Discover backstory of your characters
• Key story factors like motive, desire, goal, conflict and theme
• Character interviews
• Discovering the setting
• How to format your finished outline
• How to put your outline to use

Outlining Your Novel also includes exclusive interviews with authors like: Becky Levine, Larry Brooks, Elizabeth Spann Craig, Roz Morris, John Robinson, Jody Hedlund, Aggie Villanueva, Lisa Grace, Carolyn Kaufman and Dan L. Hays and you can the interviews at the end of each chapter. The authors answer these important questions:
• Can you describe your outlining process?
• What is the greatest benefit of outlining?
• What is the biggest potential pitfall of outlining?
• Do you recommend “pantsing” for certain situations and outlining for others?
• What’s the most important contributing factor to a successful outline?

Please note that Outlining Your Novel has a workbook (see photo below) which can be bought separately. Book Review Outlining Novel K. M. Weiland

About the Author

K. M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel, as well as Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic, the western A Man Called Outlaw, the medieval epic Behold the Dawn, the portal fantasy Dreamlander, and the historical/dieselpunk adventure Storming. When she’s not making things up, she’s busy mentoring other authors on her award-winning blog HelpingWritersBecomeAuthors.com. She makes her home in western Nebraska.

No Plot? No Problem by Chris Baty

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I have had this book for a very long time but it looks like I had to wait to read it until I signed up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which was last year! NaNoWriMo is a great opportunity to practice writing in public to a certain degree and finish your shitty first draft.

Chris Baty is the founder of NaNoWriMo. He’s been there, done it, got the badge. In this book, he shows you how to survive 30 day of novel writing during November, what to eat, where to write, how to socialise, what to expect from each week and eventually write 50.000 words. Additionally, previous NaNoWriMo winners share their experiences and give you many tips. As you can imagine, they’ve been there, done it, got the badge, too.

I took many notes from No Plot? No Problem and put them all together to go through the important parts as part of my preparations. I particularly liked the section about coffee 🙂

If you’re thinking about participating NaNoWriMo at any stage of your writing life, then I’d say get this book.

Book Review: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

book review bird Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird

Some Instructions on Writing and Life
by Anne Lamott

Have you ever noticed that Bird by Bird is one the most recommended books about writing? Although I cannot remember where the recommendation came from for me, it is the very first book I read about writing. This is the book where “shitty first drafts’ comes from -I tell everyone that it’s a technical term.

I was just going through the book again just to tell you about the chapters -I actually read it in 2007 -and ended up reading it again. Anne Lamott’s swift, witty, honest and approachable writing style draws you in. You literally hear her voice instructing, encouraging and ultimately inspiring you.

Bird by Bird is not only a step-by-step guide on how to write but it also offers help to manage the writer’s life. Maybe it is more about life than writing but it’s still good. The chapters include:

Part One: Writing

Getting Started
Short Assignments
Shitty First Drafts
Perfectionism
School Lunches
Polaroids
Character
Plot
Dialogue
Set Design
False Starts
Plot Treatment
How Do You Know When You’re Done?

Part Two: The Writing Frame of Mind

Looking Around
The Moral Point of View
Broccoli
Radio Station KFKD
Jealousy

Part Three: Help Along the Way

Index Cards
Calling Aroung
Writing Groups
Someone to Read Your Drafts
Letters
Writers Block

Part Four: And Other Reasons to Write

Writing a Present
Finding Your Voice
Giving
Publication

Part Five: The Last Class

The Maeve Binchy Writers’ Club

The Maeve Binchy Writers' Club

The Maeve Binchy Writers’ Club

Maeve Binchy’s Evening Class was the first book I have ever read in English. I was so proud of myself for reading a big book in English and enjoying it, too. This one, however, is a guidebook on writing and it has been one of the most approachable ones for me. It is inspired by a course run by The National College of Ireland. The advice in it comes not only from Maeve Binchy herself but also from other writers, editors and publishers. Here’s the list of these experts: Marian Keyes, Alison Walsh, Norah Casey, Paula Campbell, Ivy Bannister, Seamus Hosey, Gerald Dawe, Jim Culleton, Ferdia McAnna and Julie Parsons.

The Maeve Binchy Writers’ Club is written with charm, humour and generosity. It warms your heart only Maeve Binchy can do. She basically shows us how authors write and covers topics from finding a subject and creating good writing habits to sustaining progress and seeking a publisher. It doesn’t matter if you want to write plays, short stories or mysteries, there is something in it for every one.

At the end of the book, there is an appendix full of suggested further reading, a selection of writing competitions and awards as well as websites and literary journals.

“The most important thing to realize is that everyone is capable of telling a story.” –Maeve Binchy

On Writing by Stephen King

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On Writing by Stephen King

I have a confession to make: I have never ever read any of Stephen King’s books. I remember making an attempt to Misery in English but I dropped it after a few pages  as my English wasn’t good enough at the time. On Writing, however, was recommended by a trustworthy source for writers. I’m glad I took that advice.

Although I have pages of detailed notes from this book on my computer, what you see below somehow made its way up here. Here’s some of the highlights:

Let’s get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally  from nowhere, sail at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these  ideas but to recognize them when they show up.

When you’re still too young to shave, optimism is a perfectly legitimate response to failure.

Writers were blessed stenographers taking divine dictation.

In the Durham of my childhood, life wore little or any makeup.

I stood there in the doorway, casting the same shadow as always, but I couldn’t talk.

Finally I gave up and asked the guy behind the counter (the same bald, bored-looking, gray-coated guy who has, I’m convinced, sold alcohol virgins their first bottle since the dawn of commerce) what was cheap.

Silence isn’t what that part is about. It began to scream for help in the only way it knew how, through my fiction and through my monsters.

It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.

The adverb is not your friend.

Fuhgeddaboudit!

Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes.

Critics who try to rise above this intellectual hardening of the arteries usually meet with limited success.

Story is honorable and trustworthy; plot is shifty, and best kept under house arrest.

… it’s the story undressed, standing up in nothing but its socks and undershorts.

The scariest moment is just before you start. After that things can only get better. Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates or making friends. In the end it is about enriching the lives of those who will read your work and enriching your own life as well. It’s about getting up, getting well and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy. Much of this book – perhaps too much – has been about how I learned to do it.

Much of it is about how you can do it better. The rest of it – and perhaps the best of it – is a permissionship. You can, you should and if you’re brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. So drink. Drink and be filled up.’