by Bob Mayer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Bob Mayer’s book is a great start for writing a novel. I review it before I write a novel to remind myself of the traits I need to follow and refer back to it when I’m stuck on a scene that just doesn’t sound right. It is a powerful reminder of what works if/when you lose your way. Mayers includes topics on characteristics of a writer, tools for day-to-day writing (fairly trite, though i enjoy the entire atmosphere of writing so it was fun to read), what to write, preparation for writing, elements of the story (narrative structure, plot, pacing, etc.), technique (characters, POV, dialogue, setting, subplots). His final chapters on the business end of writing include the submission (process, rejections, agents), your business and the future (ebooks).
He has helpful sample outlines, sample cover letter and synopsis. He also includes a nice sample story grid and plot line.
Overall, he covers the mechanics of writing in less than 135 pages and the business parts in less than seventy pages. That makes it a quick read, and an enjoyable one as it doesn’t linger anywhere too long to be boring. Therein lies its shortfall. Nothing is very detailed. For example, there aren’t specifics on creating good dialogue or narrative. As a result, it is one of about fifteen books I keep to provide a solid reference on how to perform my art to its best.
I gave this book only three stars because of its title: The Novel Writer’s Toolkit: A guide to writing great fiction and getting it published. Often, writing a great novel and getting published are mutually exclusive. Daniel Silva does both with his character Gabriel Allon, but often, publishable books are selected for reasons more temporary than quality of writing, i.e., a popular topic.