Saturday, March 8, 2014

An Insider's Guide to the Craft

I'LL TELL YOU A SECRET about fiction workshops. The people who teach them (that would be me) often gravitate to the subjects that are of the greatest interest to them at the time. So during the year that I was working extra-hard to create realistic but still intelligible dialogue, I felt inspired to teach workshops on how to create better dialogue. And when my publisher gave me a new copy editor, and I had to learn how to settle into that new working relationship, I wanted to share what I had learned about how to work with a copy editor.
Now available on
   Now, in my defense, that is how these workshops were advertised, and most of the people who took them thought they were very worthwhile experiences. But in every workshop, it seemed as if there was one person, maybe two, that had this look that almost bordered on pleading. It was as if they were saying, "Dialogue is nice, and I would love to get to the point some day where I have to know how to work with a copy editor. But what I really want to know right now is this: how do I do it? How do I write a novel?"
   Now, to people who have been writing books, and seeing them published by known, conventional, advance- and royalty-paying publishers, the answer to that question might seem obvious; after all, it's right there on the pages of our books. But just as there is a profound difference between driving a car and designing one, there is also a great gulf of insight and experience between reading a novel and knowing how to write one. And every successful novelist has had a learning curve; goodness knows I had one of my own that went on (I kid you not) for decades before I was writing print-worthy book-length fiction.
   So, at the encouragement of many people who'd taken my workshops and seminars, I decided to write the book I wished someone would have written back when I was trying to write and sell my first novel. My aim is that, armed with what is in this book, a talented writer should be able to save years off the learning curve. And I think this book does that; I've already shared advance reader copies with several deeply experienced, bestselling novelists, and they've all had the same response to it: "I wish there'd been something like this when I was just starting out."
   That book is available now on Amazon as both a high-quality trade paperback and a Kindle ebook. It's called The Novel & The Novelist: An Insider's Guide to the Craft, and you can find it online by following this link. 
   If you or your critique group decides to give it a try, I'd love to hear what you think.

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