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Secrets of Writing

“One of the reasons why  a lot of my characters are high is that it’s easier to write for people who are stoned, who are not very smart and don’t know big words.”

–Judd Apatow

 

 

Read Read This Next Next

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Our new book, Read This Next, will be published in the US on November 2 and in the UK on December 2 (to allow for Daylight Savings Time). Here are just some of the things people have been saying about it:

“Easily the most entertaining guide to great reading.”

“So good it will probably increase in value, making it a fine investment opportunity.”

“If you only read one book this year, you’re probably not in the demographic we’re looking for, so never mind.”

Okay, they were people in the publicity department, but they’re still people as far we’re concerned, and Read This Next is still a very entertaining look at over 500 great books you might have missed. It was written to be of equal use to people in book groups, people not in book groups, and their friends. Read This Next provides funny, provocative questions to consider, intriguing historical and biographical details about authors and their times, and the signature humor that has made How Not To Write A Novel a favorite in three four languages and any number of dialects.

You can find out more about Read This Next at the Read This Next website, where you can also learn more about Barrington Hewcott, the richest man in the world.

Roget’s Dog Thesaurus

I. Food

arf: (n.) woof, bow wow, yap, bark.; (adj.) woof, bow wow, yap, bark. (vt.) woof, bow wow, yap, bark.

II. Walk

arf: (n.) woof, bow wow, yap, bark.; (adj.) woof, bow wow, yap, bark. (vt.) woof, bow wow, yap, bark.

III. Humping

arf: (n.) woof, bow wow, yap, bark.; (adj.) woof, bow wow, yap, bark. (vt.) woof, bow wow, yap, bark.

IV. Human, entrance

arf: (n.) woof, bow wow, yap, bark.; (adj.) woof, bow wow, yap, bark. (vt.) woof, bow wow, yap, bark.

V. Another dog

arf: (n.) woof, bow wow, yap, bark.; (adj.) woof, bow wow, yap, bark. (vt.) woof, bow wow, yap, bark.

Thesaurus Week at HNTWAN

It has come to our attention that certain writers have been using our book to back up the assertion that it is somehow amateurish or unnatural to use a thesaurus. We are shocked and disappointed. Because, first of all, it should not be “a thesaurus,” as if one might choose among thesauruses: there is only the thesaurus, that is, Roget’s original thesaurus. Brilliantly arranged, it is a delight, a book that one opens with a specific purpose and emerges from an hour later, head buzzing with words, and thoughts, and revelations. (It should be noted that the purpose is by now forgotten, but who cares about usefulness, after all?)

To use a dictionary style thesaurus, or worse still, thesaurus.com, is to not use a thesaurus at all; in fact, you will come out of it knowing fewer words than you knew before. Continued use may in fact turn you into a mute husk, innocent of language, a fleshly lump with no discernible intellect–a non-writer! While some might note that this would improve your earning potential enormously, we cannot recommend it, because we would look like hypocrites.

Anyhow, to get back to the point about how we are so horribly misunderstood: depressingly often, people imagine we have said something that is wrong, like that people should never use thesauruses. Au contraire! In fact, whenever you think that something in our book might be wrong, stop. Before you read another word, try to determine where you’ve made your error by retracing your steps. Go back to that morning, or if necessary, the week before. Don’t stop until you’ve discovered the instant when you went off the tracks, even if this means going back to early childhood.

Here is the crucial step: fix your error.

Then relive your life in your mind, pausing occasionally to appreciate how much better it is now, until you find yourself again reading our book. See? We were right all along.

What we said about thesauruses is that one can abuse them.  So don’t do that.

Soon to be translated into more than one languages!

Two, actually. Look for the Spanish language edition of How Not To Write A Novel from Seix Barral  in April 2010, and the Italian edition from Corbaccio in October 2010. Assuming you were waiting to read How Not To Write A Novel in Spanish or Italian.  For English-speaking peoples we still stand behind the hearty Anglophone values and jolly Saxophone humor of the original, while at the same time enthusiastically welcoming our Romance brethren into the How Not To Write A Novel family.

Swelling of the liver of the state to apply for account

We found this review on the website for Chinese Paladin Online, a popular role-playing game. Translation by google. 

Veteran point of writing fiction writers can not afford to make mistakes

Love written by authors who have big dreams, but I take infinite pains taken to the famous publishing house knew just dart back edge, automatic return.Where exactly the problem? Difficult book to write the novel, the representative of the worst in 1969 is none other than Seoul American writer James (John Kennedy Toole), because no one is willing to publication of his novel “The fool alliance” (A Confederacy of Dunces), the last suicide. 4 to sell his mother did not give up, and finally a book. God knows well received book, the 1981 Pulitzer Prize.

“This is not to write fiction” book video

The bloody lessons of the former, the young people to write the novel can not miss the two veteran writers: shadow writer (Howard Mittelmark) and Newman University Writing (Sandra Newman) jointly co-authored the book “fiction is not the case write “(How Not to Write a Novel), the burden of proof that fiction can not afford to make the 200 error, a listing on the Web Bookstore, got the British bestseller list.

Typically an essential element of bad novels that according to the book are: the circumstances of absurd or unintelligible muttered; role annoying feature; full of cliches and the author of bias. “Writers need to do is to keep readers page.” Priority cases, regardless of emotional move, or move about reserving intellectual aspirations, can not wait to let readers know how the next.Benign circumstances such as redundant, no one to see through the follow-up to put the development of justice, and no injuries removed.

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Notwithstanding

While there is no sure-fire formula for a good novel, there are mistakes you should avoid. That is the principle on which our book was based. But every rule has at least one tutelary genius; an author who triumphs despite – or because of – having run roughshod over it. Ulysses is baffling, over-written, and plotless. Tristram Shandy takes a long time getting started (the hero isn’t born until Volume III). Others include:

1. Candide: Almost every writing guide will tell you that the plot should be driven by the protagonist’s actions; s/he should not be passively batted around by fate until fate’s arms tire and the happy ending results. Of course, that is Candide in a nutshell.

2. The Brothers Karamazov: Here Dostoevsky continually halts the plot while one character after another recounts his dreams, concept of sacred love, or the plot of a long prose poem he wrote as a teenager. Not only does Dostoevsky get away with it, his most celebrated passage is the bit about the prose poem.

3. Lolita: Writers should avoid using obscure words or ornate prose purely for the sake of using obscure words and ornate prose. If those writers are writing in a second language, they are likely to be headed for a humiliating garble. In Nabokov’s hands, though, words like leporine and matitudinal are a sensual pleasure.

4. To the Lighthouse: It is easier for the reader if the novelist does not hop merrily from one person’s point of view to another, from head to head like a summer cold, guided by mere proximity. Unless you are Virginia Woolf, in which case this creates a fascinating compound view of life, sort of like the spider’s-eye view in old horror movies.

5. Watership Down: The vast majority of aspiring writers should not write a 500-page novel from the point of view of a rabbit.

 

Reposted from the Times.

What we’ll look like when you see us in London

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Penguin’s UK edition of How Not To Write A Novel will be available on January 29. Although the text will be unchanged from the US edition, time and context have made the UK edition even funnier and more!!! useful, so you’d be well-advised to stock up on both. Don’t believe us? Check the book section of the Times, where you’ll find us extensively quoted.

This just in from Library Journal

“This writing how-to should carry a warning: it’s the kind of book one reads at the expense of other responsibilities….a surprisingly distinctive approach within the crowded category of novel-writing guides.”

Click and scroll down for full review. (Actually, that covered most of the good stuff; check out this song by Los Campesinos instead.)

Publishers Weekly Urges You To Read How Not To Write A Novel

How NOT to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them–A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide Howard Mittlemark and Sandra Newman. Collins, $15.95 paper (272p) ISBN 9780061357954

Offering observations rather than rules (“‘No right on red’ is a rule. ‘Driving at high speed toward a brick wall usually ends badly’ is an observation.”), authors and editors Mittlemark and Newman identify writing pitfalls in each aspect of novel writing, from plot (“The Benign Tumor, where an apparently meaningful development isn’t) to character (“The Vegan Viking, wherein the author accessorizes with politics”) to narrative technique (“The Tennis Match, wherein the point of view bounces back and forth”) to dialogue, setting, research and theme. Each mistake is illustrated with an example of unpublishable prose and, typically, a biting but worthwhile lesson: “unpublished authors are far more intrigued by their characters’ backstory than their readers are.” Useful lists and sidebars break up the formula and address more specific problems like cell phones (equal to the fall of Communism in its threat to thriller writers) and irony (“now virtually meaningless, routinely applied to any situation in which one thing bears some relation to another thing”). A great resource, this tongue-in-cheek guide is a fun read with a lot of solid advice for would-be novelists. PW, 5/5/08

More reviews follow.

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