WRITING THE NOVEL FROM PLOT TO PRINT was the book that jump-started my career as a novelist and remains my favorite how-to book. In my review of the original edition, I rated it four stars, which would have been a perfect five if the book weren’t a bit outdated. (It was written in the 1970s.)
Earlier this year, I emailed Lawrence Block to ask him if he would ever update the book. He emailed back and said it was something he’d like to do. In the acknowledgements of WRITING THE NOVEL FROM PLOT TO PRINT TO PIXEL, he very generously gives me credit for giving him the idea, but I believe my email was simply the tipping point for him, since writers have been asking for a new edition for years.
WRITING THE NOVEL FROM PLOT TO PRINT TO PIXEL isn’t an update in the strictest sense. It’s an expansion. Block has reproduced his original text as-is, while adding commentary to reflect the new world of writing. In other hands, this could be clunky, but Block makes it work. It helps that he is one of the authors who has successfully made the leap from traditional to self publishing. He still has a foot in each world and is able to take a clear-eyed view of the modern writing landscape.
The section on publication is where Block did the most updating. The craft of writing novels hasn’t changed, but the way we get those novels into readers’ hands has changed tremendously. Block has added three new chapters—one each on the pros and cons of self-publishing and one on the nuts and bolts of doing it yourself. He wisely recognizes how quickly things move in today’s publishing world and points readers toward websites with up-to-date information.
The other chapters have much less commentary added to them. My beloved chapters on plotting, characters, reading like a writer, and developing solid work habits are as helpful as ever, and the commentary is sprinkled in with a light touch. Block offers a cautionary tale here, a bit of insight there, and a joke as often as he can get away with it. As I was reading, I got the delightful sensation that I was reading my own dog-eared original edition while Lawrence Block himself sat next to me offering witty asides.
WRITING THE NOVEL FROM PLOT TO PRINT TO PIXEL is like having a pocket-sized mentor you can consult any time. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.
rating: 5 stars
pie slices: 8 slices craft
This book is best for: beginning and intermediate writers
I recommend this book