Writing and Selling Your Novel–Book Review

I can’t remember how Writing and Selling Your Novel was recommended to me, but it was definitely worth reading.

I love books on writing because they are like attending mini-conferences. Lots of topics are covered that make me think about writing in different ways. Usually sparking a breakthrough or giving me a new technique when editing or drafting.

I’ve been reading this book for a couple months because the chapters are wonderfully divided up into individual topics and lessons. Each has exercises to try too.

I really loved how he explained  Stimulus and Response. It gave me a new way to analyze the flow of my writing.

One of the best takeaways is: “Whenever you show something happening (a stimulus), you must show something else happening as a result (a response); and whenever you desire a certain thing to happen  a response), you must show the happening that caused it (the stimulus).”

Sounds simple right?

But one point he made is that when you have dialogue and internalizations in a paragraph, you want to put the line of dialogue at the end of paragraph, if the next paragraph begins with the speaker responding to it.

Stimulus-response at work. It really makes things flow better.

His chapter on Making Story People More Interesting touches on some basic psychological aspects that can be employed to ratchet up the conflict and tension.

I found the transactional analysis theory very useful in understanding an argument in my current novel. The idea is that there are 3 ego states: parent, adult, and child.

Conflict happens when there is a cross transaction, which means any of these three talking to one of the other two. So if a parent talks to a child, you’ll get some sparks.

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16 Responses to Writing and Selling Your Novel–Book Review

  1. Jenny says:

    Sounds fantastic. I checked out another book you recommended: The First 50 page. (at least I think it was you who recommended it). That one and this one will definitely end up on my book shelf soon.

  2. berry says:

    Give u lots of credit. You are dedicated.

  3. sounds like a good book. I’ll check it out

  4. Thanks for sharing, Kourtney. That’s really interesting.

  5. Carrie Rubin says:

    Maybe some of these techniques are what help to define one who has a talent for writing. While many of us may need to consciously remember the stimulus-response cycle(or other techniques), others may come to it intuitively.

    I read so many great tips in these books. I only hope I remember them when I’m doing the actual writing. 🙂

    • I think these books help us to communicate as beta readers and in critique groups too. It’s easy to say “I didn’t like this.” But it’s so much more useful to say, “the stimulus response was in the wrong order and it pulled me out of the story.” 🙂 It’s funny there are things I do without knowing it–they come naturally to me. But there are things I struggle with that these books have a way of helping me get better at. 🙂

  6. 4amWriter says:

    Great recommendation. I love writing books when they provide specific examples, such as what you described: “But one point he made is that when you have dialogue and internalizations in a paragraph, you want to put the line of dialogue at the end of paragraph, if the next paragraph begins with the speaker responding to it.”

    Maybe I knew that instinctively, because it certainly makes sense. But seeing it in writing helps cement the idea in my head.

    • This book includes lots of examples. And his informal classroom style makes it easy to grasp his key points. He gives you slices of insight into lots of things.

      It helped me explain what was wrong with the flow in some of my dialogue and quickly correct it. I love writing books because they gives us tools for our writer toolbox. Some I use daily, some I only need once a year. But they are all there, waiting to be used. 🙂

  7. jmmcdowell says:

    Thanks for another great recommendation, Kourtney! Now, can I successfully put all the information together into an engaging novel?!

    • That’s the trick! I find I still struggle with some of the basics I’ve learned. Or at least identifying them and fixing them. 🙂 It helps to take multiple passes through the novel and edit for specific things on each pass. 🙂

What do you think?