Review: The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing

Since I said in the post “Focus and Write!” that I would post about the book when I finished it, and it’s been half a week (or so) since I finished, I guess I need to follow up with my take on the book.  Here goes…

Overall, I found this to be a very worthwhile purchase.  Well over half of the articles have great information and insight into whichever story element category they fit.  For instance, the lead off article, “The Philosophy of Plot” by James N. Frey, in the lead section, The Craft, is a great article about how to use well-developed characters to create and drive realistic plots.  I actually found Part One:  The Craft to be filled with useful articles and the most helpful of all the parts.  Most of the other sections had a smattering of articles that resonated with me, including Part Three:  The Process’s fantastic article, James Plath’s “Twenty-One Tweaks to a Better Tale.”  It’s rather self-explanatory what that one is about, yes?  In the Interview part, there were one or two in which I found a pearl of wisdom or two, but most didn’t do much for me.

Probably the one biggest point/tip I got from the book came from “Marketing Your Novel:  The Ten Commandments” by E.L. Wyrick, in Part Five:  The Marketplace:  “Hey, a page a day–a single page a day–makes a novel in a year.

I highly recommend this book to any writer looking for a book loaded with tips and advice on multiple aspects of writing.

[Looking back at this review over four years later, I realized I hadn’t included much info for others to find this book.  It can be found on  It was written/edited by Meg Leder, Jack Heffron, and The Editors of Writer’s Digest, originally published in July 2002.]


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