For years, readers have turned to Lawrence Block's novels for mesmerizing entertainment. And for years, writers have turns to Block's "Writing the Novel" for candid, conversational, practical advice on how to put a publishable novel on paper.
This is not a "how-to" book; neither is it a "guide" to writing novels. Rather, I like to think of it as a reflection book -- that is, you should approach this book as if you are discerning how you should write your book. And Block makes this clear: each writer is different and, consequently, each writer works differently -- writing may be the only profession where the end does justify the means.
The book itself is 15 chapters and a little under 200 pages. It can easily be read in a week. Block draws from his years of experience as a mystery writer and, much to my surprise, draws from experience of other writers. For example, Block relates a fine story about Justin Scott whose first novel was awful; his second, much better; his third was sold; and, finally, was able to make a nice sale several novels later.
The chapters that I found most important were: Chapter 3: "Read . . . Study . . . Analyze," where Block exhorts all writers to read and study the most recent selling books of the chosen genera; and, Chapter 13: "Rewriting," where Block talks about how different authors approach rewriting. Block also gives very practical advice on writing habits, development of style, character development, and outlining.
But perhaps the best aspect of this book is Block's encouragement. As your reading, he makes you feel that you can write a novel and that if you continue that you will sell one eventually.
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