This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley


Write every day.

Mosley starts with this advice and repeats it often in this slim volume. Every book for writers says that. But so what?  It’s simple math: the more you work, the more books you’ll produce. There is nothing that makes this advice special. Nor is there much that’s special in any of Mosley’s tips. THIS YEAR YOU WRITE YOUR NOVEL is a hundred pages of bland, uninspiring prose with none of the verve and hard truths that make Mosley’s novels so fascinating.

THIS YEAR YOU WRITE YOUR NOVEL is full of the basics we all learned in school. Mosley discusses first and third person narration, show-don’t-tell, and the uses of dialog. But it’s descriptive rather than prescriptive. He’s great at telling you what works, but isn’t much interested in why it works or how to do it. He seems to have little insight into his own process, much less that of other writers.

I’m okay with books that don’t offer much actual instruction if they offer something else, like inspiration. I like some good cheerleading as much as the next writer, and if an author can remind me how awesome writing is, I love that book forever. However, Mosley is a workmanlike writer, with a regular routine. It’s just a job to him; certainly nothing to get excited about.

That’s not to say that THIS YEAR YOU WRITE YOUR NOVEL is all bad. I liked Mosley’s emphasis on rewriting, knowing that it takes multiple drafts to finish a novel. He is humble and straightforward, but in trying to erase his self-importance from THIS YEAR YOU WRITE YOUR NOVEL, he seemed to erase his own personality as well. Mosley probably didn’t offend any writers with this book, but he didn’t engage many of them, either.




Rating: 3 stars


This book is best for: beginning writers


I recommend this book or Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain or You’ve Got a Book In You by Elizabeth Sims

5 thoughts on “This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley

    • You’re welcome, Aniko! I personally think writing stories is the most fun thing ever. I get to write down the picture in my head, and if I do my job right, that same picture appears in someone else’s head. How cool is that?

  1. Humble can be good, but I guess at this point I’d like more. As in more than what I already know. The authors who crank out book after book – assembly line books – amaze me. First, I don’t know how they do it- basically write the same story over and over again with a few changes. But second, how boring.
    But then I do know of authors who do exactly this and make loads of money and their fans are happy with the same story told over and over again. Huh.
    I just don’t think as an author I’d be happy. And maybe that doesn’t matter.

  2. I’m glad I read your review before succumbing to the temptation of plunking down my $7.95 for this book. In addition to being a huge fan of his writing, I once had the pleasure of sitting next to him at one of those alphabetically arranged author signings, and he was every bit as smart and funny and thoughtful as I’d imagined him. What a crying shame that a writer with so much personality and ability couldn’t deliver a better book.

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