Review

How to Grow a Novel: The Most Common Mistakes Writers Make and How to Overcome Them

by Sol Stein

Sol
Stein has published nine novels, three plays for live theater, and
two previous nonfiction books, the latter of which is STEIN ON
WRITING. HOW TO GROW A NOVEL is a continuation of Stein's no
nonsense approach to tips for writers who desire to be published
novelists.
The
first chapters deal with the writer's responsibilities to produce a
manuscript that will whet the appetite of the most
difficult-to-persuade editor. The opening words remind writers that
a good book must have a magical quality that turns words into a
memorable experience for the reader.
Stein next explains the necessary ingredients for memorable
scenes and unforgettable characters in a novel. Scenes that do not
move action in a story are those that should be removed. The reader
needs a reward, like the child hunting Easter eggs with the desire
to fill his basket with delectable candy eggs. Stein believes that
conflict in order to achieve the character's goals is the essence
of a good novel.
The
author has an uncanny ability to dissect a piece of fiction into
its most elemental parts. He teaches rules of good writing needed
for acceptance by an editor but he tempers the rules with
encouraging remarks for writers who may feel them an insurmountable
burden.
HOW
TO GROW A NOVEL is an encyclopedia of good information for the
writer who desires publication of quality work, with the promise of
more than one sold novel. Creating emotions, sad or happy, good or
bad, is a writer's ultimate goal. Stein's chapters on technique
stress development of conflict between characters, opening the
story with an emotional hook, or lead, and exceptional plotting.
Snappy dialogue, fresh use of simile and metaphor, and writing the
immediate scene are additional techniques Stein
explains.
Three chapters are devoted to the publisher's responsibilities
to the writer. Stein, both an editor and writer, has the expertise
to substantiate his advice. A brief history of the modern
publishing profession illustrates the trends that agents and
editors use as barometers for future successful books.
Finally, in an appendix, Stein gives practical hints, dos and
don'ts, and necessary rituals of submission. In all, HOW TO GROW A
NOVEL is a succinct, well-written bible for novel writers. Stein's
book is a blueprint for the writer who wishes to place many
selections on a bookseller's shelves.

Reviewed by Judy Gigstad (Gigstadjudy@hotmail.com) on January 22, 2011

How to Grow a Novel: The Most Common Mistakes Writers Make and How to Overcome Them
by Sol Stein

  • Publication Date: December 23, 1999
  • Genres: Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • ISBN-10: 0312209495
  • ISBN-13: 9780312209490