Thursday, January 29, 2009

Writing craft: How Not to Write a Novel

In preparation for my writing retreat to edit and revise my manuscript Undertow, I'm reading How Not to Write a Novel by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman

Mittelmark and Newman know that writers can learn more from bad examples than good ones, and describe 200 classic mistakes in fiction. They use hilariously exaggerated examples to demonstrate such blunders as "I Complete Me: Wherein the novel is a work of auto-hagiography" and special sections on sex scenes ("The Purple Blue Prose: In which the sex is cloaked in lyricism"), jokes, and postmodernism.

Every writer should get this book; along with the good advice, it's very funny. An excerpt to get you interested: 

"It is as if the author had said, 'Oh, I just realized my plot doesn't work, so I'm going to add something from outside of my plot, okay?' This particular blunder is known as deus ex machina, which is French for 'Are you f---ing kidding me?'"

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