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Book Review: The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing

Hello everyone! This is the first ever book review written on Writing It Wells. I wanted to write this "surprise" post because I have a passion for reading as much as I do writing. My love for it developed at an early age, when my mother used to read to me and grew as I got older into a lifelong pursuit. As a writer, I feel that reading is an essential tool to help better your craft. If you don't read, how can you expect to write books? It just makes sense. Reading allows you to see what other writers are doing, brings new ideas, and grows your knowledge of the craft in general. Plus, it's fun!

My plan for these types of posts is to provide supplemental information that can help you as a writer, and entertain you as a reader. It'll be completely relative to my own rate of reading and be of my own personal selection tastes. Recommendations are always welcome, of course. It's just a lighthearted post that gives us a break from some of my heavier writing series. It's my hope that sharing my love of reading with you all will hopefully connect us in our mutual interests!

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The first book on my reading list for 2020 was The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing written by The Editor's of Writer's Digest. It took me a long time to read it, but this was due to my heavy workload and because I naturally read any sort of technical book a lot slower than I would something purely for entertainment. Below is my rating and break-down.

The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing:

Everything You Need To Know To Create & Sell Your Work

Written by: The Editors of Writer's Digest, including interviews and articles by many well-known writers such as Robert Crais, Garth Stein, Anne Rice, David Baldacci, Dennis Lehane, George R.R. Martin, and more.

Rating: 4/5 starts. Highly recommend!

Synopsis: This is a writing resource book written by writers for writers. It offers advice in multiple topics including narrative, plot and structure, characters, craft and style, getting started, rituals and methods, revision and editing, genres, and publishing. It's a brief, condense version that walks you through the entire writing process from the moment you start writing to the moment you publish. Sectioned into easy-to-read essays, it doesn't feel like you're reading a technical craft book. More like you're having a chat with a friend offering industry tips. With experienced industry professionals as the advice-givers, you can be certain that the information offered is current and relevant. The best part of the book are the interviews with famous writers at the end, which gave a variety of insights into the writing process.

What I liked:

  • The way it was organized

  • the casual tone it was written in

  • Found the advice to be helpful/sound

  • The quotes sections included within each main part

  • Most of all, the interviews with famous writers at the end- they were the most interesting and valuable!

What I didn't like:

  • The disproportion of topics (some were covered better than others)

  • I wished there were more interviews from famous authors rather than articles, only because I found them more interesting/helpful overall


I would give this book 4/5 stars. I found it to be helpful and learned a lot about writing as a craft. It made me feel less alone in the sense that now I better understand my writing process and realize that there are other writers out there that feel the same way. I also gained insight into the many different ways that writers write and I found that to be the most valuable information in this piece. If you're looking for a book about writing, I'd pick this one up. It's going to help you no matter where you are in your writing process.

Want to check it out for yourself? Here's the link:

The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing

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