I started reading this book over a year ago when I had completed the rough draft of my second novel but wasn’t happy with the ending. I had envisioned my new book as a type of murder mystery that was less of a ‘whodunit’ and more of a ‘will-he-get-away-with- it. I had written the nearly 60,000 words over the course of November 2016 as part of National Novel Writing Month and knew as I was writing it that I would need to tighten it up, but wasn’t quite sure how to go about it when I stopped. Halfway through Frey’s book, I realized what my book needed: more conflict. It wasn’t that the protagonist was passive, but that too much of what went on wasn’t action. Then I sat on the book—and didn’t come back to it or Frey’s—until last month, having made my new year’s resolution to finally “finish” this novel.
“How to Write” books can’t teach you to write. But, as in my example above, they can lead you to new ways to think about your writing. There’s lots of things that Frey suggests here that I will never do—his method of outline and plotting isn’t part of my creative process. But his advice though can be used for many purposes, if only to ask yourself, why would I not do that?
[Finished 24 February 2018]