Google+ YA Romantics: Writing Life Wednesday: Review of Jumpstart Your Novel

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Writing Life Wednesday: Review of Jumpstart Your Novel

Welcome to Writing Life Wednesday, a periodic new feature on YA Romantics. In this feature, I'll look at all different aspects of writing. This will include interviews with writers about their work, discussions posts, and reviews. 

Whether you're a writer, an aspiring writer, or just someone who likes to read what other people write, I hope you'll feel free to chime in and discuss!

Today I'm featuring a review:

Jumpstart Your Novel
by Mark Teppo
To be published by ROTA Books
on August 18, 2015

Source: eARC for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: What's the easiest thing about being a writer? Sitting in a chair! What's the second easiest thing about being a writer? Putting your hands on a keyboard! What's the hardest thing about being a writer? Making words come out of your brain! It doesn’t matter if you’ve just started thinking about writing a novel or have done a dozen of them; getting started on a new project is always the hardest part. That’s where Jumpstart Your Novel saves the day. Inside this book, you’ll discover a technique that will help you outline an entire novel in a little under two hours. That’s less time that it takes to sit through a movie (with previews), get across town in rush hour traffic, or vacuum your cat! Using a simple Nine Box Model, you'll organize your thoughts so effectively that brainstorming a novel will seem as simple as following the directions on the back of a box of cake mix. Idea stacking, plot spinning, pants wearing: all of these tools will be at your disposal as you settle into that writing chair and start your brain fire! 
My take:  I think that one of the hardest things beginning novelists face is figuring how to take all their messy creative stuff -- whether that means ideas inside their head or actual drafts and scenes -- and shape it into a polished, finished piece of work. Learning and understanding the classic elements of plot structure can offer an author a roadmap to keep a story on track.

Overall, I though that Jumpstart Your Novel offered a good introduction (or, for more experienced readers and writers, a reminder) of the elements that underlie a solid story. There's no earth shatteringly innovative stuff in here -- the book explains elements that will be familiar to anyone who's studied the basics of writing fiction or screenplays: protagonist, antagonist, hook, obstacles and setbacks -- but it presents the information in a clear and entertaining way. The book does offer some innovation -- using the Tarot to brainstorm your way out of plot dead ends and into compelling new characters.

I think Jumpstart Your Novel would be a good book for writers just starting out, but also a helpful resource for more experienced "pantsers" out there who don't want to spend days and weeks plotting but need help setting a basic structure for their novel-to-be. Of course, the real work starts after that!

If you're a writer, what books on writing have you found most helpful? If you're an aspiring writer, what are your greatest challenges? And if you're a reader, tell me what you thought of this feature!


  1. I haven't read any books about writing so far. Maybe I should? I'll definitely keep this one in mind. Thanks for inspiring me to get some books on writing!

    - Jen from The Bookavid

    1. Hoping other people will chime in, but there's a book my friend Steph loves, but I will have to ask her the name.

  2. I've never read a book on writing before, but I think it might be interesting. I am not writing novel or anything, but I think it'd also be cool to read as someone who just devours books.

    1. Try one! Hoping we can get some recommendations -- maybe in a future post.

  3. I haven't read a book on writing before either, but maybe I should? Like a lot of other people I've had ideas floating around my brain for a long time that I wish I could write about. Are you writing a book Jen?

    1. Ha - I have written many things, including a really bad romance about a woman who paints pet portraits who falls in love with ... I think he was the police officer who was protecting her from ... someone? I'll have to see if I can find it.

      In my opinion, it's a great accomplishment just to finish a novel. It's a lot of words to write!!

  4. Elements of Style is one of the books that helped me. Also Stephen King's memoire - what a delight, right? :) And a few others, but hey, who's counting? Excellent feature, Jen :)

  5. I've always wanted to try my hand at reading non-fictions. Particularly, books about writing. I used to do a bit of writing, myself. But am not particularly impressed by it that I would be brave enough to submit it to somebody. Anyway, this one sounds like a good place to start.

  6. I always find books on writing that I want to read, and I like reading them, but for some reason it does not always translate for me. I understand and absorb the information the books tell me, but once I go to sit down and just write, I completely blank. I think I will try to read books on writing again though, since I have not been able to write as much as I would like to lately. Nice review, Jen! I'm looking forward to more Writing Life Wednesdays in the future :D

  7. Clear and entertaining, sounds fun to me! Like Jen The Bookavid, I haven't read any books on writing, but I'm also think I should possibly? I actually started a novel... uh... *checks* September 2013 and I still haven't finished the first draft! Yikes! I started off just writing it, having a vague idea where I wanted it to go, but in the middle of NaNo I realized that I was giving everything to my MC much too easily. And I know they say that you just need to push through and finish the first draft without tweaking it, but I just couldn't go on and decided to scrap most of it and start over. I then realized I was a planner, and without an outline I can't write.

    Anyway, I went completely off topic, lol. This sounds like it would be super helpful! Love the new feature, by the way :)


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