Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Nighttime Novelist: Finish Your Novel in Your Spare Time by Joseph Bates

The Nighttime Novelist: Finish Your Novel in Your Spare Time by Joseph Bates (Rated: C)
Writer's Digest Books
ISBN: 978-1582978468
Published September 2010
Hardcover, 272 pages

Many writers have full-time jobs, take care of a household and children, and usually write in their spare time—such as early in the morning or late at night. I have done both. When I had the chance to review The Nighttime Novelist, I was curious if it would be different from the slew of writing resource books I've read in the past two years since I've published my first book.

The first thing I noticed was the gorgeous layout. This book has a spiral-bound binder format and contains colourful pages, charts, and worksheets. It's divided into three parts, Beginnings, Middles, and Endings, with a Coffee Break section after each part (which I thought cute and practical) that helps you to check how you're doing thus far. It's a book that covers all the basics—developing ideas, character development, plot planning, narration, description and setting, pacing, building suspense, climax and good endings.

All the chapters focus on the “technique”, “hurdle”, and “going deeper” of each topic introduced. And it's all colour-coded. Some may find this distracting but I liked it. Most of the content was not new to me. However, I liked the author's voice and his explanations: simple, to the point, told with good and appropriate humour. Whether we are new or more experienced writers, reminders of the basics and their deeper points is never a bad idea. All writers have their strengths and weaknesses. But for some it may still be too basic.

Bates makes good use of questions to get the writer thinking. Whatever the topic, these questions had me thinking about my current novel in progress. This was good. I learned a few things I could work on. I particularly appreciated the chapter on Narration where the author explains well the various POV options and how to find one's voice. This is by far one of the most confusing things for new writers and I get asked about this constantly when I give workshops. Bates' experience as an editor shines through in this book, although he himself has not written a novel.

If you dream of writing a novel or are struggling with the one in process, know that you can do it even if your time is limited. Bates keeps with the theme of the nighttime novelist, who steals time to write, by offering a book that is easy and quick to read, to reference, and from which to learn.

Disclosure: Thanks to Leyane Jerejian from FSB Associates for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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