If you had asked me this question two years ago, I would have promptly asked you if you were crazy. I mean, why would a writer want to read a book about writing?
At least in my teenage ‘I’m-the-best’ mind, it seemed like a completely foolish thing to do.
I realised the need to read ‘books on writing’ only when I failed to complete my debut novel (the one I started in 2015, gave up in 2016, took up again in 2016, gave up in 2016, not willingly to take back up in 2017)
My failure in writing a novel was because I saw the carefully designed plot unravel like a carefully wound-up cassette. My characters stabbed me in the back, and my dialogues went as silent as a dead man’s grave.
For a really long time, I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. Was I wrong about believing my abilities as a fiction writer? Or was I wrong to even continue working on an impossible plot?
There’s a reason to irrationality, just like there’s method to madness.
I spent December and January figuring out why I can’t be a fiction writer. Some possible problems popped up in my mind.
1. Did I start writing the novel at a really young age? Maybe I needed a little more maturity to give justice to the novel I was writing.
2. Did I create a substandard plot with a unique message? The plot would have been too boring, and the unique message would have been unbelievable.
3. Did I plan enough before actually venturing to write the novel? No, I didn’t.
The first point can be solved only with time and experience. The second point, with a little more experience.
But the third point was easy to solve. At least after reading this book: How to Write a Damn Good Novel.
From this handy guide on fiction writing, I learnt so much more about writing than I could ever imagine. I wonder why I never read this book before venturing on my blogging journey. But I was a dodo back then, who didn’t want to listen to anyone’s advice except her own.
Coming back to the book.
There are many versions of the book which address different topics. I read the one titled ‘How to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-by-Step No-Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling‘.
All I can tell you, is that I made a supreme mistake of working on the novel before reading this book.
And now, allow me to help you not make the same mistake that I made.
Get your hands on this book even before you start buying new notebooks, pens, cartridges, typewriters, computer keyboards, printers or any other writing paraphernalia.
Just buy a really huge sheet of white chart paper, and three-four colour sketch pens, and ‘How to Write a Damn Good Novel’.
Sit in a quiet place, and start reading the book.
A lot of ideas will flow through your head as you read this book, but make sure to hold on to your ‘idea’, the one you want to write about in your novel.
The step by step method of the book will guide you along every aspect of a novel: from adding more meat to the plot, to making your characters real and life-like; from helping you create memorable dialogues, to making sure every word in your novel has a meaning; from teaching you the theory of fiction writing to giving you practical bestselling examples.
Use the chart paper and sketch pen: to note down the new developments you make in you plot, character, dialogues, and other elements while reading the book. I would suggest making neat columns and using similar coloured sketch pens for similar headings, but that’s just me. Feel free to make notes in any way you want to, but use the chart paper.
Once you’ve finished reading the book, do not immediately start working on your novel. Wait for some days. And in those days, fold up the chart paper neatly and hide it under the bed.
Once a few days have passed, pull out the chart paper and pin it up where you can view it comfortably.
Go through all your notes, and see if the story and other elements still makes sense to you. Mostly it will.
But what if it doesn’t? Open the relevant chapter from the book and read it all over again. And then make the necessary changes.
I wouldn’t absolutely swear by following each and every word in this book, because as writers we do have to have a creative licence.
But it is extremely valuable to learn how famous authors from the past millennium captivated their readers with their magical prose. Very few (and insane) writers would not want to know about this.
I recommend this book today to all you followers who love blogging and want to take one step forward: into writing a fiction novel. It’s very informative, and thoroughly worth the monetary investment.
Disclaimer: This book on writing will help specifically those writers who wish to write fiction novels, not non-fiction.
Disclaimer 2: I may suffer from frog-in-the-well syndrome, because this book on writing was the only book available in my well. But you can trust me on this one: I certainly could leap out of a lot of fiction-writing problems thanks to this book.
After all is said and done, I’d love to end this post by saying that I’ve (finally) got a halfway decent idea to work on. But saying that would be a lie, and I must not tell lies. *shows hand and quill* #HarryPotterReference
So I’ll sign off for today with a simple quote from ‘How to Write a Damn Good Novel’.
“For some it is harder to write a novel than to row a bathtub across the North Atlantic.”
This post is linked up to Sanch’s blog for the #FridayReflections post. I may have merged two prompts here: free write, and my favourite book about writing. I hope I did a good job at rambling (I’ve gotten rusty due to no practice) (look at what a pro I am right now)