The Budding Writer or Faulkner Aspirer May Need a Little Guidance

The Budding Writer or Faulkner Aspirer May Need a Little Guidance

We’ve all thought it. Whether it was after groaning your way through a god-awful, $1.99 Kindle bundle or stifling explosive sighs from whatever you grabbed off the “Hottest New Read”-shelf in the airport, we’ve all thought it: “I could write better than this.” It’s a thought we’ve all had before eking out a pathetic 8,000 words during the following NanoWriMo.

There is no definitive how-to book for novel writing. How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them—A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide, however, is exactly as advertised. It outlines all the mistakes that make you look like a total rube.

By introducing a previously unmentioned element to resolve a situation, it is as if the author has said, “Oh, I just realized my plot doesn’t work, so I’m going to add something from outside of my plot, okay?” Okay, well that particular blunder is known as the deux ex machina, which is French for, “Are you fucking kidding me?”

Each mistake listed is preceded by an example piece of writing that exemplifies the cringe-worthy aspect of that literary pitfall. Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman have seemingly accomplished a Sisyphean task of reading every crappy novel and making a hilarious educational guide from it.

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