writing the novel“It’s hard for me to be objective about Lawrence Block. His photo was taped to the wall above my computer for several years. I considered him my mentor, but not like the guru who dispenses wisdom from on high. To me, he was more like a big brother who’s been where you are (not so very long ago) and will always reach back to hold your hand if you need it. That feeling comes from Block’s conversational tone, his optimistic view of the world, and his honesty about his own failings.

“However, I suspect my real love for WRITING THE NOVEL comes from it being the right book at the right time. It was published in 1979, but I didn’t discover it until many years later, sometime in the 90′s. Even so, it was just what a brand-new baby writer needed, and I read it three or four times. I recently revisited it for this review, and was shocked at how timely it still is. A lot has changed in the last thirty-three years, but a lot has not. Oddly enough, a few things have come full-circle and become newly relevant.

“WRITING THE NOVEL is meant to set your feet firmly on the novelist’s path with the minimal amount of drama. It also separates technical progress from creative breakthroughs. Block teaches you to cultivate the former, knowing the latter will take care of themselves. He is also quick to point out that every bit of his advice is optional. Do what works.

writingthenovel“Publishing may have changed over the years, but the craft of writing hasn’t. Block discusses the importance of nurturing your ideas, the advantages of outlining, how much research is necessary, staying with the novel for the long haul, and how to revise your work….”

There’s more, including a persuasive argument for an updated edition. Click here to read the rest.

Writers Digest Books published WRITING THE NOVEL over thirty years ago, and kept it in print for most of those years, but printed copies now seem to be available only in the aftermarket. Happily (for me at least,and I c an only hope for y’all as well) it’s enjoying a second life as an Open Road eBook, and the least I can do is leave you with links for Kindle and Nook.