Book Review: How to Write a Damn Good Novel

How to Write a Damn Good Novel is written by writing teacher James N. Frey (not to be confused with James Frey, author of the controversial A Million Little Pieces). Frey's little volume is easy to read in the small chunks of time a writer has, and the author is entertaining at the same time as he slaps you upside the head.

The subtitle is entirely accurate: A step-by-step no nonsense guide to dramatic storytelling. In only nine chapters, Frey gets right to the point, and makes you smile while he does.

I had the privilege of attending a writing conference in 2009 at which Frey, also a playwright and novelist, spoke. I'll never forget his ten rules of writing:

  1. Read
  2. Read
  3. Read
  4. Write
  5. Write
  6. Write
  7. Suffer
  8. Suffer
  9. Suffer
  10. !!!!!!!

This book will teach you how to creat dynamic characters, who are in the middle of intense conflict. Why writing without a premise is like rowing a boat without oars. The ABC's of storytelling, bringing your story to a climax, and all about the writer's bag of tricks.  And finally, he'll teach you about writing dialogue, how to rewrite and revise, and what to do when you're finally done.

Frey has written several books on the craft of writing, including a sequel to this one. You'll also find one on writing a thriller, mystery, and using the power of myth in your writing. To see the entire list, click here.

Check out James N. Frey's website here. He maintains a wonderful list of writer's resources. If you'd like to read any of the dozen articles on fiction that he's posted, check them out here.

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