Yesterday, I bought a copy of How NOT to Write a Novel and began reading it. I learned about the book reading the comments over at Slacktivist, and the title (not to mention the part Fred’s commentor quoted) just called to me.
The book is written by a couple of people in the publishing industry. They decided that rather than writing another book filled with hit-or-miss techniques for writing a great novel, they’d describe the numerous mistakes that fledgeling authors make, mistakes which guarantee their manuscript will find the shortest path to the recycling bin.
So far, I’ve finished the three chapters having to do with common plot mistakes. I’m pleased to report that I’ve so far managed to avoid most of those in Harald’s Story. However, the one section did give me reason to reconsider an early scene in the story. I don’t plan on removing or editing it yet, as I think I can justify the scene and it’s not that bad — at least not in my opinion. But when I finish the first draft, I’ll go back and look at it as part of the editorial process.
The book itself is rather humorous. I think the examples of bad writing they provide are even funnier. A lot of them involve some sort of fusion between ergonomics and hydraulics, which is just plain weird. I’m starting to wonder if they’ve chosen to weirdness of the plot device to further emphasize the bad writing they’re trying to draw potential writers’ attentions to. Or perhaps they created such a totally bizarre subject to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings by choosing something that might resemble a potential reader’s own poor attempts at writing.
I’ve been writing a lot of posts about the writing I’ve been doing. I think I may be getting obssessed. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, though.