Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris

The difference between finished first novels and abandoned ones probably lies in the planning. Beginning writers often struggle with this. They just want to write and write and write. NAIL YOUR NOVEL gives full support to that obsession, while adding the vital structure that novels need.

Morris takes a writer baby step by baby step through the novel, from the bare bones of an outline to the final polish. Along the way, she shares tips to stay motivated and keep the story on track. A beginning writer with only a vague idea and plenty of time could follow the steps in NAIL YOUR NOVEL and end with a finished, readable book. Even old pros could pick up some pointers along the way.

Each step of the process, Morris lists what’s important to get right and what’s okay to ignore for now. She also reminds us what the creative mind should be doing and what the inner editor should be doing (mostly, shutting up). Too many of us get wedded to the details of our stories right at the start and try to squeeze the rest of the story around them. Morris reminds us that it’s much better to keep things loose in the first draft, so we can pick the best events and details for our novels, not just the first ones we thought of.

However, Morris takes her love of planning to an extreme. Even after the draft is done, she suggests you outline again, this time tagging each character’s movements, or separating out plot and subplot, or charting the whole thing on a timeline. I’ve read other books that advise such things, but I’ve never found them helpful. Unless you have an extremely complicated plot or are re-starting a stalled project, I doubt a second draft outline would result in a better novel. Planning is good, but only in moderation.

A novel with a complete story arc planned out is a novel more likely to be written. It’s also more likely to be revised and published later. If a writer is unsure where to begin, or lost in the middle, NAIL YOUR NOVEL can help get that manuscript from writer’s head to reader’s hands.

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rating: 4 stars

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pie slices: 8 slices craft

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This book is best for: beginning writers

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I recommend this book.

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