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!