"Darn," the editor hectored, in turn. "I can not publish your novel! It is full of what we in the business call 'really awful writing.'"
"But how shall I absolve this dilemma? I have already read every tome available on how to write well and get published!" The writer tossed his head about, wildly.
"It might help," opined the blonde editor, helpfully, "to ponder how NOT to write a novel, so you might avoid the very thing!"
Many writing books offer sound advice on how to write well. This is not one of those books. On the contrary, this is a collection of terrible, awkward, and laughably unreadable excerpts that will teach you what to avoid—at all costs—if you ever want your novel published.
In How Not to Write a Novel, authors Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman distill their 30 years combined experience in teaching, editing, writing, and reviewing fiction to bring you real advice from the other side of the query letter. Rather than telling you how or what to write, they identify the 200 most common mistakes unconsciously made by writers and teach you to recognize, avoid, and amend them. With hilarious "mis-examples" to demonstrate each manuscript-mangling error, they'll help you troubleshoot your beginnings and endings, bad guys, love interests, style, jokes, perspective, voice, and more. As funny as it is useful, this essential how-NOT-to guide will help you get your manuscript out of the slush pile and into the bookstore.
You will find one of the great unspoken secrets of craftsmanship in Chapter 5, called "Markers: The Key to Swift Characterization." In Chapter 7, Stein reveals for he first time in print the wonderful system for creating instant conflict developed in the Playwrights Group of the Actors Studio, of which he was a founder. In "Secrets of Good Dialogue," the premier teacher of dialogue gives you the instantly useable techniques that not only make verbal exchanges exciting but that move the story forward immediately. You won't need to struggle with flashbacks or background material after you've read Chapter 14, which shows you how to bring background into the foreground.
Writers of both fiction and nonfiction will relish the amphetamines for speeding up pace, and the many ways to liposuction flab, as well as how to tap originality and recognize what successful titles have in common. You'll discover literary values that enhance writing, providing depth and resonance. You'll bless the day you read Chapters 32 and 33 and discover why revising by starting at page one can be a serious mistake, and how to revise without growing cold on your manuscript.
In the pages of this book, nonfiction writers will find a passport to the new revolution in journalism and a guide to using the techniques of fiction to enhance nonfiction. Fresh, useful, informative, and fun to read and reread, Stein on Writing is a book you will mark up, dog-ear, and cherish.