Book Review: How Not To Write A Novel

There are thousands of books aimed at writers, that promise to show us the secrets to writing and getting published. In fact, just by doing a quick search on Amazon, I found 86,000 printed titles under the heading of Writing in the Reference section. And people have many different ideas about how to make your writing better, from the snowflake planning technique to deleting every last one of your commas. It can be difficult to wade through all of this material and find something that resonates and works for you. One book I bought back when it was released in 2009 is “How Not To Write A Novel” by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark, which is a great resource that certainly stands the test of time and is very helpful.

“How Not To Write A Novel” doesn’t give hard and fast rules. Instead of telling you exactly what you should do to make your novel the greatest ever, it shows you all the things you can do to make it completely unpublishable. There is nobody insisting that you absolutely have to get rid of all your adverbs, nobody telling you that you must plan everything before you pick up a pen. But do you know what the best thing is? It’s funny. Packed with examples of bad writing you can’t help but chuckle at, there is something that sets this book apart from any other writing guide: It doesn’t make you feel bad about your writing. It makes you feel good. I guarantee that you will come across at least one passage – in fact, probably several – that you can laugh at and say “thank goodness I don’t write like that!” This book is informative without getting on its high horse, and is entertaining from beginning to end.