The Sunday Times:
The teaching of creative writing just entered a whole new era with the publication of How Not to Write a Novel. Heavens, what a joy this book is.
Its two smart young American authors, having evidently wasted little time pausing to study the existing literature, have a simple aim: to identify 200 “mistakes” commonly made by unpublished fiction writers and to hammer home their points with hilarious section headings and spot-on illustrative examples. Their get-real, tough-love sarcastic tone ought to be grating, but it isn’t. It is extremely funny. “Employing any of the plot mistakes that follow,” they assure readers, “will guarantee that your novel will be only a brief detour in a ream of paper’s journey to the landfill.
Times Literary Supplement:
The title How Not To Write a Novel suggests abstinence, holding out the promise of fewer Victorian detective stories, child narrators and romances involving old manuscripts. The minatory subtitle of Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark’s book, however–200 mistakes to avoid at all costs if you ever want to get published–has a different message: publish if you must. Their self-help book for aspiring novelists is chummy in tone but unrelenting in its prescriptions for managing plot, character, style and setting.
As someone who also assesses manuscripts for a literary consultation firm, I shouldn’t really be recommending a book that does my job for me. But Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark have produced an invaluable guide, subtitled “200 mistakes to avoid at all costs if you ever want to get published”, for those who have set about writing a novel. Which would seem to be about two-thirds of the country.
The Daily Mail:
It’s not often that genuinely instructive books combine successfully with humour, but this is a golden exception. The authors start from the standpoint that there is no magic formula for writing a good novel, but almost limitless things that can go wrong.
The Daily Record:
So, you’ve always planned to write a book and now your story is in your head.
You’ve switched on the computer and … well, you’re not entirely sure where to start.
Best plan? Rewind a little, and nip down to WH Smith for this compendium of “200 mistakes to avoid at all costs if you ever want to get published”.
News of the World:
This is the book for anyone who ever laboured over a laptop in the hope of bashing out a bestseller–or just fantasised about seeing their name on a cover.
Experienced writers Mittelmark and Newman–themselves teachers in how to write successfully–have expertly picked out the 200 classic pitfalls that litter the work of wannabe novelists.
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