Do How-To Books Help You Write A Novel?

United States
December 4, 2006 3:17pm CST
There are so many books that promise to teach you how to write a novel. They cover everything from story structure to how to establish characters to how to schedule your writing day! I want to write a novel in the next year or two, but I'm not sure if reading how to books will help me do it, and if they will, which ones are worth the time to read? Any suggestions or advice?
1 person likes this
8 responses
• United States
4 Dec 06
Unless you are in serious need of help, I wouldn't bother reading all of that. I've been writing for a few years and have not yet needed to look up that stuff. However, I do recomend researching when it comes to marketing your book unless you are willing to pay someone to handle that for you. A good self-publishing site is www.lulu.com, but there are also some very good quality publishing sites as well out there.
1 person likes this
• United States
5 Dec 06
Thanks for the heads up on Lulu.com, that looks like a very useful resource. Do you have any advice on whether to try to do marketing solo or whether to employ a pro? I'm definitely thinking about what will happen down the line with my work, and marketing is a huge question mark!
12 Dec 06
Books - A selection of books about writing
Well, I have about fifteen of these books, as well as the NewNovelist software and as yet, no novel! I think that they do have limited usefulness and I have retained a lot of information about how to plot and structure my work and would probably find them invaluable when I came to the second draft but, sadly, what they don't do is drag your novel out of you! Most of them recommend that you 'just write', but, for me, I think that what I actually need to do is to spend some focused time planning scenes in my head and going over them before I commit them to paper so that I can see the action and how well it works. There is nothing more soul-destroying than staring at a blank piece of paper, pen in hand, waiting for words to come. Having said that, of those I've read I would say that I have found the following the most useful as guidance but in the end the discipline and creativity has to come from you. 'The Writer's Idea Book' by Jack Heffron 'Teach Yourself Writing a Novel' by Nigel Watts 'First Draft in 30 Days' by Karen S Wiesner (unlikely to happen in 30 days but useful for planning your story). 'Novel Writing; 16 Steps to Success' by Evan Marshall Hope that helps.
1 person likes this
12 Dec 06
Well, I have about fifteen of these books, as well as the NewNovelist software and as yet, no novel! I think that they do have limited usefulness and I have retained a lot of information about how to plot and structure my work and would probably find them invaluable when I came to the second draft but, sadly, what they don't do is drag your novel out of you! Most of them recommend that you 'just write', but, for me, I think that what I actually need to do is to spend some focused time planning scenes in my head and going over them before I commit them to paper so that I can see the action and how well it works. There is nothing more soul-destroying than staring at a blank piece of paper, pen in hand, waiting for words to come. Having said that, of those I've read I would say that I have found the following the most useful as guidance but in the end the discipline and creativity has to come from you. 'The Writer's Idea Book' by Jack Heffron 'Teach Yourself Writing a Novel' by Nigel Watts 'First Draft in 30 Days' by Karen S Wiesner (unlikely to happen in 30 days but useful for planning your story). 'Novel Writing; 16 Steps to Success' by Evan Marshall Hope that helps.
12 Dec 06
I know what you mean. I have about fifteen of them and I also have that NewNovelist software which wasn't cheap but as yet, no novel. I desperately want to write one but I am coming to the conclusion that the books etc are really only any use when you come to the second draft. They help you put it all in order and they do talk about plotting and character development but what they can't do is tell you what you want to happen. I suppose that everything that I've read has gone in and it is probably useful in that I know how a scene should be set out and so forth but in the end the only thing that is going to get it written is some focus on my part. I really need to spend some quality thinking time on it. I am not convinced by the people who say 'just write', I think that, for me at least, I need to watch a scene play out in my head before I commit it to paper.
• Canada
10 Dec 06
I have found that writing a novel comes from the heart as much as from the head. It is not something that can be necessarily taught - it is already there within you. I myself love writing and have written a few short stories and am in the process of writing a novel. I have found that the only thing I have been taught is writing structure, grammar, etc. but the actual talent of writing is something that you either have or don't - it's like music, anyone can learn to play an instrument, but to compose music is something else entirely. It does help to have a plan - chart out in point form names, dates, overall concepts and keep it handy the entire time you are writing so you can refer back to it. It also helps to write about something that you know - I for example love mysteries and have been reading them all my life. My work thought is heavily involved in computers and therefore my novel is a myster that surrounds a computer company - it's what I know. Good luck!
@nandusha (154)
• India
8 Dec 06
i dont think reading a book on how to wright helps any way but let me tell u u know u are a good wright when u read ur own work let me tell u some thing that in my case i canot do any thing alse but wrigth
@gabs8513 (48708)
• United Kingdom
4 Dec 06
No I donot believe they do I have lookked at some and sorry I am not impressed I am writing a book I am not saying it will sell but I am writing it from my Mind Since I have been able to read I have always read Books I love reading and basically while I am writing it springs to my mind what books I have read and how they where written and that is how I concentrate on writing
@dsunny (999)
• India
4 Dec 06
i guess reading novels would help you..