Next Meeting

June 14th- The Writing Life: Hacks, Tips, and Solutions (speaker Elle Andrews Patt)

July 12th- From Novel to Cocoon to Screenwriting (speaker Barbara Harrington)

August 9th- Topic Pending (speaker Sylvia Weiss Sinclair)

September 13th- The Evolution of Genres (speaker Ken Pelham)

October 11th- Topic Pending (speaker Sharon Belcastro)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Lessons for Success

Morrell, David. The Successful Novelist. Sourcebooks, Inc., 2008

A high-priority project at work leached time and energy from the rest of my life beginning in February. That included writing, which is why I haven’t posted a review in months. The project is over now, the product has been released, and the forecast for the rest of the year calls for less of that kind of madness. My goal for the rest of the year is to bring you a new review on the second Monday of every month. This month, it’s David Morrell’s The Successful Novelist, originally published as Lessons From a Lifetime of Writing: A Novelist Looks at his Craft.

Thriller writer David Morrell is the author of over two dozen books including a new novel, The Shimmer, that will be released in July. His novels have been the basis for feature films (the Rambo franchise was derived from his 1972 novel First Blood) and television (Brotherhood of the Rose, also being made into a feature film to be released next year). Morrell earned his Ph.D. in American Literature at Penn State and taught at the University of Iowa until 1986.

Morrell distills his experience as a best-selling novelist and a gifted teacher into The Successful Novelist, which reads like a Master’s degree program in writing popular fiction. That’s not to say that the book is dense or filled with the impenetrable jargon common to academic writing--far from it. It is very readable, almost conversational in tone. It’s the kind of book you can read straight through and then come back to focus on the specific area you want to study.

Morrell gives the book its graduate program feel by calling each chapter a "Lesson" and bracketing the lessons with the prologue "First Day of Class" and epilogue, "Last Day of Class." The lessons cover the topics you’d expect a book on writing to handle: plot, character, description, and dialog. But Morrell also shares his wisdom on research, dealing with writer’s block, the business of writing, and even dealing with Hollywood in "Lesson Fourteen: Rambo and the Movies."
You can’t help but come away from this book with a fresh understanding of the craft of writing and your own motivations in pursuing it. It’s one of the most helpful books on writing that I’ve come across.

1 comment:

John said...

Thanks for the review! I hadn't heard of this one yet, but it sounds so interesting I'll put it on my list of must reads.