Walter Mosley’s “This Year You Write Your Novel” is an excellent read for authors at any stage in their career
I picked up This Year You Write Your Novel because I was reading Mosley’s The Man in My Basement
and Devil in a Blue Dress
and wanted to understand Mosley’s choices in the book. There were some authorial moves I understood, some completely threw me.
This Year You Write Your Novel is a short, powerful book. I read lots of books on writing methods, techniques, scene, character, language, et cetera and I was truly impressed at how much Mosley packed into 103 pages. It’s all there. Now here’s the funny part; I wouldn’t recommend the book to someone who’s been writing for a while, say a year or two, and doing it as a past time or leisure time activity. My sense is it would prove too confusing or even misinformational. It’s a great book (full of gems) for people who are about to write and those who already have a career going for them. The former will find a useful guide into a world they don’t know much, if anything, about. The latter will find lots of triggers for things they know but not consciously, for techniques they use but can’t name and will find themselves going “Oh, that’s right, that’s right” more often than not (I did, anyway).
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I got Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View at the suggestion of my writing coach, Rich Marcello (and he’s great. I’ve learned things I didn’t know I didn’t know. It don’t get much better than that!). He told me I already did most of what Jill Nelson explained in the book and that I might pick up a few incidentals, which I did.
I read the book last week (while traveling) as I write this and have already caught myself a few times with her “gotchas”.
The only real flaw I had with her book was the exercises. I felt they could have been better explained and/or better examples given. More than once the reader is invited to rewrite a sentence to incorporate lesson elements. Excellent! Except the given solutions (and she does give solutions to the exercises. Thanks for that!) often incorporate information that was no where in the original sentence and the solution becomes several sentences long. The added content not being part of the original problem sentence threw me.
I understood her suggested solutions but found myself saying “Where did she get that?” or “Where did that come from?” more than once. A little frustrating (for me) and it didn’t stop me from highlighting many items and learning.
I do suggest it for writers/authors wanting to improve their craft.