There’s a lot more to writing a novel than simply being a good writer. Over the years, I have read many excellent books on the craft — On Writing by Steven King, Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card, Save the Cat by Blake Snyder and Story Engineering by Larry Brooks to name some of my favorites. However, I believe that the single most instructive book that I’ve read on novel writing is How to Fix Your Novel by Steve Alcorn.
Alcorn covers many of the topics you would expect to find in such a book: Character building, viewpoint, voice, setting and conflict. However, there were some surprises as well. Alcorn introduced me to some concepts that I hadn’t discovered anywhere else.
He explores the importance of your protagonist’s character flaw, which drives the conflict. He explains the difference between plot and story and why it is important to balance the two. He teaches the concept of scene and sequel and how to use them to control pacing. He introduces elements to the typical three-act story structure that help you to craft a novel that builds tension and leads to a satisfying climax and conclusion.
How to Fix Your Novel provides the perfect structure for your most imaginative stories. Although Alcorn’s narrative style was perhaps a little on the cheesy side (the guy has a fondness for exclamation points, especially when making a joke), the information he conveys is invaluable to writers of all levels of experience. I highly recommend this book for any author who is interested in taking her writing to a new level.
What book has influenced your writing the most?