Book Review – Sandra Newman And Howard Mittlemark – How Not To Write A Novel

Preston, England
October 4, 2015 4:59am CST
Penguin Books 2008 With numerous how to write guides out there for prospective authors, it is refreshing to find a book on how not to write. Though jokey and sarcastic in tone this 200 classic blunders study shows the kind of bad writing plotting and pitching mistakes that can flatline a book and guarantee a publisher rejects it. The authors are publishers themselves. Examples include irrelevant back story, where a character’s entire life, education, and every relationship he ever had is spelt out even though most of it is not important to the narrative. Over-description, where the making of a sandwich takes fourteen pages. A hero suddenly develops a skill or power not referred to before, just as it is required, as when he needs to swim underwater to escape a trap. How lucky he did a free-diving breath holding class five years before. The authors make the assumption such mistakes ensure against publication, but in many cases I have read such mistakes in published books too. A funny, but useful text. The written examples of bad writing are created by the authors rather than quoted from actual submitted texts, but many are undoubtedly killing creative careers in manuscripts everywhere. Arthur Chappell
3 people like this
3 responses
@TheHorse (60658)
• Pleasant Hill, California
5 Oct 15
Sounds like a fun read. I've seen some of those kids of errors in some pretty successful movies (which I didn't like much). Can't think of examples from literature, but maybe I didn't make it through the books.
1 person likes this
@RasmaSandra (16336)
• Riga, Latvia
4 Oct 15
@arthurchappell great review. Sounds like a book that can be inspiring and though provoking to writers.
1 person likes this
@suziecat7 (3399)
• Asheville, North Carolina
4 Oct 15
It sounds like an interesting book. I have seen published bad writing and unpublished great writing. I'll check this one out - thanks for the review.