… buy this one. There are shedloads of books on how to write novels (my shelves are full of them), and a lot of them are longer, much less useful (and significantly more expensive) than this one. But why spend your time reading (or, at least, not reading novels in your genre) when you should be writing? With a breezy and easy-to-absorb style, Roz covers the ground and supplies lots of good tips and sound advice, derived from actually succeeding, and helping other people to succeed, at what she describes. Faced with a conundrum as I write, I go back to check what Roz says frequently.
This book came into my life at just the right moment (well, to be honest, I had owned the book for several weeks and had actually stopped putting off reading it…at just the right moment). I was delighted to find out that I had accidentally been doing the early steps just the way Roz had recommended. However, I had gotten stuck. I had a year’s worth of ideas scribbled down that had started out in a three-ring binder rather organized but had “somehow” turned into a stack of papers, a Mead composition book, a stack of index cards, two tablets, AND a three-ring binder inside a paper grocery bag; and add to that 190 pages of a NaNoWriMo “book” that was going in two different directions. I kept wishing that I could magically feed the papers into the computer and have that sort them out for me and put them in order, etc. Here’s the part where I read this book at just the right time. The answer was in it. It’s called the Card Game. I thought, “Of course!!” That idea made so much sense! And so does the rest of the ideas in Roz’ book. It is so well laid out and clear. It is a system, and I feel like using this system actually helps free up my creativity, because it takes some of the worrying away.
I have read a review that said that this book should be used as a text in writing courses, and I completely agree.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Solid, Usable Advice,February 14, 2011
I have a small shelf full of writing books, and I’ve read through all of them. Not that I’d need to, though, because most of them offer the same sorts of advice: “Show, don’t tell.” “Read a lot, write a lot,” etc. Nail Your Novel is a little bit different – it dispenses almost entirely with vaguery and platitudes, and instead presents writing a novel in clear, concrete steps. You follow this plan, the book says, and you’ll have a novel.
That’s not to say that it’ll automatically be a great novel, or even a good one. But it will be a complete one, which is really Nail Your Novel’s goal, and it’s definitely much more than half the battle.
True story: I picked this book up after finishing my rough draft. I knew that it had serious problems, but the scale and scope of the problem seemed so huge that I could barely fit it in my head, and this meant that I was just poking ineffectually at a weeping mass rather than actually working it into shape. The last section of Nail Your Novel deals with turning that sad draft into a coherent piece, first by listing out the scenes, then figuring out the tempo and emotions you want in those scenes; not too quick or too slow. Very useful for me.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Valuable Resource for Writers,February 14, 2011
This has been extremely useful to me. I find the book easy to follow, and all sections well laid out. It is like having a mentor by your side every step of the way.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Superb! I wish I’d had it years ago.,February 13, 2011
Imagine you’re writing a novel from scratch, just an idea for a story and a need to tell it. Imagine spending months, perhaps years crafting a draft and editing it two, three, maybe four times. You hire an editor to look at samples only to learn (if you’re willing to accept constructive criticism) that whole scenes and side plots need to be scrapped, that the book really begins in the middle of chapter two, that you need to study grammar, punctuation, dialogue, pacing, structure, and a bunch of rules you need a cheat sheet to remember. Bummer.
At the outset of your project, if an expert novelist had agreed to mentor you regarding the nuts & bolts of writing fiction and mapping a novel, think of the difference this would have made regarding your time, frustration, and blood pressure. Roz Morris is that expert and “Nail Your Novel” represents the helping hand you’ll come to wish you had. Regardless whether you’re thinking of writing a novel or wondering what’s wrong with your finished manuscript, “Nail Your Novel” contains lanterns of insight that might help you reach the vision that inspired your book. (I especially appreciate her detailed instructions re crafting a beat sheet to map my story.] Good luck!
5.0 out of 5 stars
Handy and Helpful,February 21, 2011
This is a great little book and, despite having only had it a couple of day, has already proved itself to be very useful.
Importantly, the author has a proven track record as a writer of fiction as opposed to a writer of “how to write” books. Leading by example, she writes clear, concise and ultimately motivational advice. In your face, Bernard-Shaw!
The content is based on some pretty sound theories too: “…from Hollywood scriptwriting, improvisational drama, project management and sports psychology.”
I thoroughly recommend this to anyone who is thinking about, has started or already finished writing a novel. I say that with complete confidence as all three categories apply to me.
I am an aspiring writer who lacks the confidence to push to the end with my stories.
Not long ago, I took this book as company on a long train journey to Sheffield. I was going to visit a friend who is also an aspiring writer. By the time I got up there I had read it twice and felt compelled, out of friendship, to give him my copy immediately upon my arrival. So, dammit, I will have to buy another one.
We spent the weekend playing `the card game’ for a co-authoring project. It may come to nought, but it was lovely to feel the buzz again, all the same. I am enjoying writing again, and I have improved a great deal as a result of this book.
I have just checked; I have 14 How To Write Books. Many are the ‘must have’ books that you are led to understand anyone who wants to write should have. This book is in the top three.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars
An insightful, encouraging book to help you get your book done,
December 1, 2010
By Roxanne Mchenry “::Unruly Guides:: Writer, SE… (Montana) – See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER) (VINE VOICE) (REAL NAME)
This review is from: Nail Your Novel – Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish with Confidence (Paperback)
I have had the privilege of interviewing and chatting with author Roz Morris about her experience and advice in completing a novel (whether you’re a beginner or more experienced writer). Roz is a teacher at heart and her book exemplifies her ability to clearly “show and tell” writers what they need to know to break down the aspects to their book.
Roz encourages the writer to use the creative mind and the analytical mind where it’s needed–when creating a work vs. when it’s time to edit–and (gasp!)tear the story apart and put it back together. She takes away the fear of making mistakes or moving things around or taking out characters or scenes and weaving together the plot threads.
Roz has extensive experience as a literary critic, adviser and ghostwriter, so she’s met and worked with many authors. She confidently shares the truth that many (perhaps almost all?) authors fear they’ll wreck the story and it’ll never work. But offers the insight of a book doctor, that everything can turn out OK, and will in the end.
I wish I had this book a long time ago. I’m comfortable with writing non-fiction, but fiction…is another story. Reading Roz’ book, I felt a flicker of excitement building, that “Yeah. I might be able to tackle a story and do it well after all!”
This book is a quick read, well organized and clearly written, with exercises and encouragement so you will get your story where it needs to be before publishing or sending it out.
(Disclosure: Roz Morris provided me with a review copy of her book.)
Roz Morris has done all the things about which she gives advice, and she has done them successfully. She is not a frustrated author who could not “cut it” in the real world and decided to take the easy way out and publish a “how to” book. NAIL YOUR NOVEL is not short, but is very concise, and written in an easy, conversational style that does not bore the reader. It addresses most of the issues writers of fiction confront as they struggle to produce something worthwhile, and is worth much more than what it costs.
This is a well-structured simple guide to writing a book and getting it published, and short enough that you pick it up to skim through and find you’ve read a large chunk of it, as opposed to those books you buy meaning to read and put aside for later – permanently. I particularly liked the practical ideas such as going off and making meatballs when you are stuck for ideas, with the result that the ideas flow just when your hands are covered in slime. And I like the way the humour makes writing sound fun, as it is when you have Roz Morris at your side commanding you to defeat the temptation to do everything to put off writing a difficult section and inspiring you with wacky ideas to overcome writer’s block.
I follow the Roz Morris blog, Nail Your Novel, and find it focused, insightful, and extremely professional. Roz is a wonderful teacher, and, as a bonus, she’s an insightful spirit with wonderful karma. If you have a few novels in a file drawer, or even a single novel that you want to polish for publication, this book will be the best investment you could make. The clarity alone is worth your time! Roz has a way of seeing straight through to core issues and not wasting your time … even as she explains, in depth, craft components that you absolutely must master to take your novel to the next level. Writers at any level will benefit by reading Roz — I strongly recommend this publication!
Nail Your Novel is a clear, concise novel-writing manual. It gives a step-by-step guide to the writing process, from the planning stages through to final revisions and sending your completed manuscript out to potential agents and publishers. Along the way the book describes a number of strategies that professionals employ to help them on their way. It leads prospective authors from the basics of writing plans and synopses, to self-motivation, through to ways to keep writing when your creative muse has taken an inconvenient break, all set out in an easily-accessible style. I thoroughly recommend it!
Nail Your Novel is superbly aimed at those with a desire to write, it also shows that anyone with a pulse can become a good novelist too. With this in mind I believe that It would make a great addition to any school’s curriculum, as I am sure many children would go on to become fine novelists as a result of such early training and be inspired to reach their full potential in their later lives, all from reading ‘Nail Your Novel’ by Ross Morris.
I find one of the fearsome tasks in writing a novel to be managing the amount of information and number of tasks it takes to finish. Morris’s steps (with several concrete suggestions for implementing) keep my eyes on the ground so I can I take action (do some writing).
The tactics she suggests are drawn from creative endeavors besides writing, which makes them useful to people with different processes for writing–you can adapt the exercise whether you work first on plot or character, outline or full draft.
Although the book is easy to read, I’ve been moving slowly through it since each section has gotten me generating more ideas about my current project.
After years of trying to be a novelist this book finally showed me where I was going wrong – and managed to do that without making me feel like an idiot.
There’s no shortage of how to write books on the market, but a lot of them spout complete rubbish – measuring the distance your hero has travelled on a graph of self realisation. Or else they tell you nothing at all, other than it’s a good idea to have a character. All you really need to know is 1. stories have a beginning a middle and an end; 2. don’t use cliches – of phrasing, character or plot; 3. be true to your story (i.e. make your developments credible).
What Nail Your Novel does is assume you know the above, and helps you to put in the hours that are required to turn your idea into an actual finished piece of work. It doesn’t tell you what to write or how to write it – it just gives you the nerve to sit down, day after day, until you’ve got something other people can read.
If you’ve ever started to write something and given up because it hasn’t lived up to your original idea then this is the book to get you past that.
Several months ago, I was stuck in the sagging middle of my first novel. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it and, worse yet, I didn’t have a plan for getting myself out of trouble. So, I did what any dedicated “plotter” would do…search for resources to help me get unstuck. I found Roz Morris’s website during the search, and purchased Nail Your Novel because of the subtitle: Why writers abandon books and how you can draft, fix and finish with confidence.
Confidence. That’s what I needed…confidence that the mess could be fixed, and a plan for getting unstuck (along a few margaritas, but that’s another story). Don’t let the compact size of this resource fool you. At 116 pages, this handy little volume is chock full of tips, techniques, and ideas for managing the work of writing a novel. Several of the ideas in the book were instrumental in helping me find a repeatable process for planning, researching, writing, and revising a novel. The “Beat Sheet” game, used to check ALL of the mechanics of your story, is worth the price of the book all by itself.
As a writer — whether you’re a dedicated plotter or pantser — this little gem is worth adding to your arsenal of writing craft resources.
Full disclaimer: I’ve known the author of this book for more than ten years, but the following review is still my honest and objective opinion.
I’ve written non-fiction books in the past, and have always wanted to write some fiction – at least in theory. However, it always seems like such a gargantuan task that I’d never know where to start and – in any case – my stories would probably suck anyway. I’ve read many ‘how to write a novel’-type books, the majority of which have failed to inspire me to set pen to paper.
So when Roz asked me to read her book a few months back, I reluctantly agreed, fully expecting it to be more of the same ‘Here-is-how-I-write-a-good-story-and-oh-by-the-way-I’m-already-an accomplished-writer-so-I-can-no-longer-relate-to-beginning-authors’. What I found instead surprised me. In fact, it surprised me so much that I actually finished reading the book, and I have started procrasti… I mean preparing to write a novel using her advice.
Roz takes a refreshingly different approach from the other books, with sensible and interesting exercises that actually get you thinking about the plot and structure of your novel. This was fantastic news for me, as it meant I could actually tell her I really liked the book without having a forced grin on my face. It *is* really good, and I can unreservedly recommend it to anyone who (like me) wonders how the hell they are going to even contemplate writing a novel.
Summary: Give it a go. I would be very surprised if you didn’t find this book to be extremely helpful in marshalling your thoughts and structuring a tight and compelling story.
Novelist, ghost writer, and professional critiquer Roz Morris’s book Nail Your Novel is a wonderful guide to the bones of writing a novel. A “writing buddy in a book,” this book pares down the basics of crafting a lengthy piece of fiction and presents a helpful methodology that dispenses with the often hazy, daunting journey from story conception to finished product.
In a no-nonsense, cut-to-the-chase set of “tasks,” Morris offers her own regimented technique for building a novel from the ground up. Although her intensive, detail-oriented process won’t be a good fit for everyone, it’s an excellent place for young writers to start. She walks writers through the basics, beginning with nurturing ideas into usable premises and following the process all the way to the light at the end of the tunnel: selling a completed manuscript to a publisher.
In many respects, Morris’s process is very similar to my own, so I found myself nodding my head vigorously over many of her points. Her discussion of outlining, in particular, overflowed with excellent advice, including tips for organizing scenes and filling in the blanks. Her inclusion of “thumb notes,” which pause to describe integral pieces of the story-telling puzzle–including character and plot, genre, and scene structure–are an excellent primer for often misunderstood areas of fiction.
As a guide for young novelists who are still trying to figure out just how to get a book written, Nail Your Novel is an excellent resource. For those who already know what they’re doing, this fascinating glimpse into the successful process of another author is sure to offer some excellent gems for fine-tuning already established techniques
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews
Have you been thinking, I can write as good as he/she can? I think I will write a novel. If so, then you need to get a copy of “Nail Your Novel” by Roz Morris. Roz have written over a dozen novels, to which eight of them are bestsellers and she will lead you down the path to writing a novel using her knowledge to teach you the steps in easy to understand language.
In her book, “Nail Your Novel” she takes you on a step by step writing plan for writing that novel that is inside you. Sure some will say that you must write 2000 or more words a day in order to get done in a year. But, this is not one of those books that will tell you that or teach you mechanics. This is a plan for finishing that novel using different methods to help troubleshoot areas where most beginning writers seem to struggle.
She lays out different tasks for you to complete and by the time you get through the book, you will be on your way to having a novel written. Her thumbnail notes are valuable lessons on different techniques writers use to make their work shine.
I have written three novels and even I found several ways to help me through revising the one I am working on by using her plan and the thumbnail notes.
If you are thinking about writing that next great American novel or even just a book to share with your family, then pick up a copy of Roz Morris’ “Nail You Novel” and begin to experience the trip of creating your novel as you work through the lessons she presents.