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The Weekend Novelist Rewrites the Novel by Robert J. Ray

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THE WEEKEND NOVELIST REWRITES THE NOVEL is the sequel to THE WEEKEND NOVELIST, which I found quite useful. In that earlier book, Ray took the huge task of writing a first draft and simplified it by breaking it into 52 parts, to be finished in a year of weekends. He tries to do something similar here, but instead of simplifying, he’s made rewriting so complex no one will do it. If I were a new author, I’d find Ray’s method too intimidating to try. Now that I am a seasoned author, I just find it silly.

Ray’s rewrite plan has seventeen steps. If you write only on weekends, it will take about four months to finish. But even then, you won’t be done because at that point, you’ve only restructured your novel. Ray’s plan leaves only two weekends to polish the prose.

The main problem with THE WEEKEND NOVELIST REWRITES THE NOVEL is that it breaks things down too finely. For example, Ray instructs writers to make a grid of every character who opposes the main character, detailing when they enter and exit the story, what their resources are, what object symbolizes them, and what they want. But really, only the last one is of any use. Once you know what the bad guy wants, and how it’s in opposition to the good guy, you know everything. This is just one example of the tasks Ray sets forth. Even if you had all the time in the world, there is no reason to do most of them. They are wasted effort.

I’m a person who loves story structure and loves rewriting. I color code my outlines and think of index cards as toys, yet I found THE WEEKEND NOVELIST REWRITES THE NOVEL tedious in the extreme. I’d rather spend my money on a better book and spend my time doing actual, productive work.

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rating: 2 stars

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pie slices: 8 slices craft

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I recommend Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder or Plot by Ansen Dibell instead of this book

About Alex Kourvo

Writer, reader, parent. On the endless quest for great books and the perfect slice of key lime pie.

3 responses »

  1. juliabarrett

    Holy smokes! I’d be tearing my hair out if I wrote that way.

    Reply
  2. Ouch! Sounds like math torture.

    Methinks the writer made one trip too many to the dry well of inspiration.

    brendan

    Reply
  3. I also bought The Weekend Novelist Rewrites the Novel. I’ve gone through the book, but haven’t done any of the exercises. Having said that, I’ll stick to working on the subplots. The author is correct. We spent too much time on the plot, and forget the subplot. Since the plot focus on character development, the characters in the subplot fall by the wayside. Therefore, we run the risk of developing cardboard people.

    The book did open my eyes to one fact: objects. They are not simply things thrown in to give the characters something to do. They define the character, or may foreshadow things to come. For example, in one of my manuscripts I showed one sequence in which the character was drawing on a piece of paper simply because she was nervous. Three hundred-and-twenty-pages later, I noticed one thing. I had dropped this peculiarity of hers!

    True, I didn’t have to use the “object”–the paper–all the times. In any case, instinctively, I did fix that oversight and included it in crucial scenes only.

    Having said this, I recommend YOU CAN WRITE A NOVEL by JAMES V. SMITH, JR., 1998 Edition. DO NOT BUY the LATEST EDITION. It has been revised and the clarity of the older edition destroyed. You can’t find the oldest edition in Amazon any longer, but B&N does carry it, and it’ll cost you $2.50 (new book) plus shipping/handling.

    Check the comments on the newest edition first, and you’ll see most people favor the old one.

    Please do check my website. In spite of its name, it is not a porno site! LOL! BY REASON OF PASSION is my novel’s title.

    Keep on writing!

    Aida L. Irizarry

    Reply

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