Review: How Not to Write a Novel, H. Mittelmark & S. Newman

How not to write a novelWe all know that the best way to teach is to engage and entertain with the material – this book does it in spades; I couldn’t put it down!

Rather than write another how-to book, Mittelmark and Newman have produced a book in a format which will be familiar to TV Tropes readers, naming, describing and creating their own hand-crafted, hysterical examples of many of the mistakes that unpublished authors make in spec manuscripts (though I have certainly seen many of these in published books, too!)

Ask yourself, are you guilty of:

“The Overture: Wherein the prologue is a brief guide to the meaning of life”

“The Puffer Fish: Wherein the author flaunts his vocabulary”

“The Joan Rivers Pre-Novel Special: In which clothing is given too much prominence?”

“The Vacation Slideshow: In which the author substitutes location for story?”

“Gibberish for Art’s Sake: Wherein indecipherable lyricism baffles the reader”

““But, Captain…!”: Where characters tell each other things they both already know”

“Hamlet at the Deli: Wherein the character’s thoughts are transcribed to no purpose”

“Goodbye cruel reader! In which an inconvenient character is conveniently disposed of?”

“The Underpants Gnomes Where crucial steps are omitted?”

and does your novel end with

“Now with 20% More Homily! Where the author tells us what he’s just spent 300 pages telling us”

If you find yourself haunted by some of the examples (and if you are even slightly honest with yourself, you will) and if you find yourself trying to justify your particular use of them, then they are probably the things you most need to fix!

Laugh out loud, shriek out loud, funny, this book will teach you more than many similar books which take you away from your writing for far longer. Definitely a book every would-be novelist should read.


2 comments on “Review: How Not to Write a Novel, H. Mittelmark & S. Newman”
  1. Anonymous says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Japan_Blogs, April Carpenter. April Carpenter said: Review: How Not to Write a Novel, H. Mittelmark & S. Newman: We all know that the best way to teach is to engage a… […]


  2. Anonymous says:

    […] I was expecting something different from this book. The back of book blurbs used phrases like “wickedly funny” and “you’ll laugh all the way to writing better” (the former is a sentence, I know,) so I was expecting a light, new and easily absorbed, for even the uninitiated, take on the art of the sentence. “It was the best…” is lighter than Strunk and White, certainly, and the sentences that Casagrande corrects in order to instruct were, occasionally so bad they were amusing but it wasn’t laugh out loud funny (like, for example, “How Not to Write a Novel” by Mittelmark and Newman.) […]


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