How to write a Novel

Can anyone recommend a good book(s) on learning to write a novel. I’m a screenwriter with an interest in novel writing that I may want to explore. I don’t know the first thing about novel writing.

Thanks for your help.


Have a look at the lists of books in the thread five or six below this one: [url]].

Assuming you want to write mainstream commercial fiction - in that thread I particularly like Molly’s Mum’s suggestions, especially King, McKee and Maas, plus two others : How Novels Work by John Mullan, and Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain. Mullan examines novels completely differently from the usual “how to write” authors. Swain gets down to the nitty-gritty of scenes and sequences, and though he wrote over forty years ago has still not been bettered.

In fact, though others will probably disagree, with these five books you will have pretty much all you need to know, and will have avoided investing in many not worth your hard-earned.

Thank you.

There’s a heap of stuff out there by some of the most successful writers around. I like:

The Performing Flea by P. G. Wodehouse. A penguin Book fro mway back when they cost 6/-. Described as “a self-portrait in letters”. Not a book of instruction, but in the letters he describes his life and a large part of his life is writing. He talks about how he writes and whatnot. His process, in fact, would fit seamlessly into Scrivener.

The Writing Book: A workbook for fiction writers by Kate Grenville, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, Australia, 1990. Oddly, no other publisher is mentioned. She begins the introduction: This isn’t yet another ‘how to write’ book. In fact, is isn’t a ‘how to write’ book at all. This is a practical workbook, a resource book for a writer to work through, with an emphasis on exercises and examples.

The Novel by James Michener, Mandarin Paperbacks, 1991. This is a novel about writing a novel. Clever bloke. Not his best book (Hawaii and The Source vie for that title, in my opinion, but far from his worst.

Since you are a screenwriter, Mak, I would suggest looking at the novels of some other screenwriters. Even if you don’t like the genre, how about Allan Folsom’s The Day After Tomorrow. I can practically see the movie scenes in it.