Would you read a book about writing, if you are a writer already? #BookReview

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.”

~Wannabe-Author

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)

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24 Comments Add yours

  1. That good hunh? I’d like to read this one. I find books on writing very interesting. For the same reason I like to listen to author’s talk too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Do let me know when you start reading it! I’m planning (just planning) to read it sometime soon, to see if I can get any new ideas for a novel (just seeing, not really saying anything 😀 )

      I haven’t checked out talks by authors. There’s one TED talk by John Green that I’ve bookmarked, will watch it soon 🙂

      Thank you dear ❤

      Like

  2. All craftspeople must study their craft, and writers are no exception. If you tried to learn by trial and error, you would die from old age first. I find another great resource to be the web site of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), although you may have to create an account to access the forums.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree with you. But the thing is, if I’m learning something new, I’d rather do a trial-and-error first, figure out why I went wrong, and then refer to a book. It makes sense that way, because I save time by not reading about things I already know, and I can relate better to the content in the book.

      But that’s just me, I guess.

      I haven’t checked out the NaNoWriMo web site that well, except a few book crawls. Thank you for the recommendation and the feedback 🙂

      Like

  3. This is probably the most fun and insightful Book Review i may have ever read! It has mad me want to look for the book you wrote about!
    Do you need to read a book on writing? probably NOT. Do you need to write a book, on writing or otherwise? YES! Soon!:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the feedback, Mayuri! This was a trial run for a new feature I’m planning to add to the blog. It’s part of my initiative to create a niche for my blog (but we both know that’s not going to happen, because I know too much about too many things 😛 )

      Hey, ‘a book about writing’s is a good idea for some new content! I find it very satisfying to write blog posts which help other writers and bloggers. Maybe not a new book, but some blog posts will be planned!

      Thank you Mayuri ❤

      Like

  4. Oh man, how cute are you? 🙂

    I know that I need to read a book on writing to improve my writing. Sadly, I cannot read non-fiction 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ‘Improve my writing’ ? Look who’s talking 😉

      I too wasn’t much into non-fiction until the latter half of last year. ‘How to Write a Damn Good Novel’ doesn’t seem like non-fiction, because it has many examples from other bestselling stories. This makes for a more practical than theoretical experience!

      Do let me know if you change your mind and read the book, Soumya! ❤

      Like

  5. Tarang Sinha says:

    First of all, congratulations for your debut work.
    I’m glad you found this book helpful. Motivation is essential no matter which form it comes in. I’m still struggling to start writing (and to be disciplined) my second book.
    I haven’t read any book on writing. Have tried and read in bits couldn’t finish. However, I like reading articles on writing.
    And yes, it’s very important to let your work rest for some time. You will learn so many things while writing your first book. I wish you all the very best. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My debut never-to-be-published book, you mean 🙈

      I read your motivational tweets on Twitter with the hashtag #amwriting, and the tweets are really beautiful and helpful! Wishing you all the love and hugs for the second book, Tarang ❤

      How to Write a Damn Good Novel has a lot of practical examples from other bestselling books, and it doesn’t seem lengthy. You can think of it as an anthology of articles on writing 😉

      Thank you Tarang for your comment ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tarang sinha says:

        No. I mean ‘Your soon-to-be-published-super successful book’! 🙂

        I’m glad you find my #amwriting tweets helpful. They are my ‘lesson learnt’, and I write them to remind myself. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Sounds like an inspiring book. I have a few writing books but haven’t read them all yet. I have read half of Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ and Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Big Magic’. The latter is more on living a creative life and not getting stuck with fear and is quite inspirational. But I’m tempted now to read this book you’ve recommended. Although in the end, unlike you who has already written a novel, I should just bloody write!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have Stephen King’s book, and plan to read it once I finish all the non-fiction books from my currently reading shelf!

      Yes, you should just go ahead and write. I read it in a post on Facebook (don’t remember by whom) ‘Write drunk, edit sober’. 😛

      All the very best, and thank you Sanch ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sreesha Diva says:

    Hmm, well, the truth is, I’m a little against reading books on writing. I’ve read Stephen King’s memoir “On Writing”, but I enjoyed the part about his life more than his advice on writing, cos whatever he said seemed a bit obvious to me. After that I swore off books on writing.
    One reason is that the more writing advice you get from others, the more it seems to interfere with your own writing style. Granted you can learn about prose, but I’d rather study their style by reading their fiction itself.
    About your novel though, I definitely don’t think you should give in to self doubt (in spite of all the reason you’ve listed), cos from what I’ve read on your blog, I’m pretty confident, you would do justice to a novel too.I know I’m no one to talk about hesitation, cos I started my debut novel at 16-17, and I’ve returned to it every few years, but never bothered to write anything beyond the first chapter. That said, do your own thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pierce my heart, and speak the words from my soul, dear one!

      I was often told to pay attention to the grammar, spelling of words used and style of the author when I started reading books (like, from my Enid Blyton days). But I never cared, until I started writing my YA fiction book. I’ve read almost all the books from the top 50 YA fiction books since then, trying to understand what makes a book from this genre tick. I’ve learnt some tips from this, but I’m nowhere close to using the same tips and rectifying my mistakes in the novel.

      I guess I’m that kind of a person who tears off an entire page even if there’s one cancelled out word on it. So maybe I’ll start afresh with a new plot, when I feel confident to do so!

      Your approach to gleaning writing advice is correct. Because after all, actions speak louder than words, don’t they 🙂

      Thank you Sreesha for your motivation! I took the failure of the novel a bit too harshly (and maybe that’s an understatement). I didn’t want to share about it on the blog last year. This book review seemed like the perfect outlet for my mixed feelings about my debut, and I feel a bit more hopeful about the future (maybe this is an exaggeration)

      Will keep you posted about any developments on the novel front, only if you promise to start working on some awesome-sauce content too. You can do it, love ❤😘

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sreesha Diva says:

        It’s good to be hopeful – it’ll push you to do it.
        There *is* one way to really employ the tips you pick up from reading other books, YA for instance. Read a bad book. In fact, read a couple of bad books – you know the type, bad grammar, poor execution. It may seem like a reverse method, but then when you read a good book, you’ll realize what not to do. Does that make sense?

        I’ll wait for you to post about the new WIPs 😀

        Like

  8. Inderpreet says:

    I think you have written out all your hesitation in writing the fiction novel. I hope to read it soon. I agree that we need to learn about our craft and there is no stopping the ‘learning process’. All the best for the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe you won’t read this one, but there will hopefully be another one that you will read 🙂

      Thank you so much Inderpreet! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Very interesting review .Just searched amazon for this.Wished there was an ebook

    Like

  10. shalzmojo says:

    whoa!! this is one helluva kickass review and yes I am searching for this book in the next window 😉 Thanks for this wonderful share M

    Like

  11. wordcoiner says:

    I have gone through the same doubts leading to stagnancy of the plot/writing. Would you believe I have been planning a novel since 2002? I was just 14 then. I also believed I need more maturity. Now I am 30 and still believe I need more maturity to complete the plot/book. I think the key is in reading books which help structure your writing and then actually writing the plot you thought of. However crappy it sounds to you, get it out of the system. You can spend years or days refining it afterward…

    Like

  12. deepagandhi says:

    How did I miss reading this one before? Here I said it again and for every post I am going to feel this way as they all are super. I am surely going to read this one as it looks a great book on writing.

    Like

  13. What a lovely review, Mithila! Some self help books really do wonders and when it comes to writing, it is always necessary to hone your craft and get better at it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally! I underestimated the power of writing related self-help books, and now I can only wonder why I acted like such a fool!

      Hope the review helped, Rohan. Thank you for stopping by 😀

      Like

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