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Free e-books on novel writing

19 December, 2009

Getting outside help can be beneficial when you are writing fiction, especially if you are a beginner.  Not everyone can participate in a writing class or group, and hiring a mentor is expensive. Luckily, most libraries and bookshops carry a range of  how-to books on writing.

I like reading these books because each author provides a personal blueprint in terms of what works for them.  Reading  their writing hints can provide you with new ideas for writing and editing.  If a how-to book costs $30 and you get a few usable ideas from it, it can be  money well-spent.

Recently, I discovered two e-documents about writing a novel—and both are FREE. The authors are Ros Morris and Crawford Kilian. Their e-material has this in common:

  • It is genuinely free. You do not have to provide your email details or sign up for a newsletter.
  • Is is substantial—a pleasant change from e-book freebies that turn out to be only 15 pages, with big type, wide margins, and lots of ads.

In an earlier version of his work, Crawford cautioned people who use his writing modules: . . .Don’t read them as divine revelation. They come out of my experience, which may not be anything like yours or that of other writers. I am sure that Roz would say the same. Because both authors  generously give so much information based on their own successes,  it is probable that as least some of their ideas will work for you.

Roz Morris’s Nail Your Novel

Roz Morris has a writing blog I enjoy. Now she has launched an e-book about novel writing, called Nail Your Novel: Why writers abandon books and how you can draft, fix and finish with confidence.

The target audience appears to be writers who have their  first draft but do not know how to work it into a final, sellable  manuscript. Writers looking for help before starting their novel will also find much that is useful.

Roz draws on her experience, having created ‘more than a dozen finished novels’ either under her own name or as a ghostwriter.

I have not yet read the whole book, but glancing through it, I  have found much to like. Ros considers a number of ways one’s MS can go wrong and discusses why this happens. At each writing stage, she suggests what to concentrate on and also what to ignore. Instead of trying to suppress your inner critic, she shows how to set boundaries so that your critic works to your benefit.

Topics include:  a system to help you be more creative; your personality type and how it affects how you write; plot thickeners; a structural survey; a mission statement for rewriting; and smart revision alerts.

The book is over 100 pages and has an index, which makes it easy to find information. The hardcopy version is for sale.

Crawford Kilian’s Write a Novel

Crawford Kilian provides a free e-course called Write a Novel: An online guide for fiction writers. This is open courseware (free learning material). It comprises 18 modules or chapters (pdf documents) about fiction writing, with attention given to writing a novel.  Each chapter includes at least one assignment.

Topics include: hard facts for first novelists; storyboarding; ten points on plotting;  constructing scenes;  genre; symbolism; and researching publishers and agents.

Crawford is a Canadian author and was a communications instructor at Capilano College, North Vancouver, BC. He has authored 20 books, fiction and nonfiction, with an emphasis on sci-fi/speculative fiction.


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