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View Full Version : "Write Away" How to write a mystery novel by E.George



FirstOffClub
05-23-2005, 08:09 AM
This book is very well-written, detailed, and inspirational. I've read lots of "how to" writing books, and this ranks at the top. Elizabeth George shows that keeping track of the process is just as important as the actual writing of the novel itself. She provides many enlightening and very honest examples of her thinking process from when she was writing past novels. She provides real examples from previous novels of her "tools", such as her "step outline" and "running plot outline". Her process does tend to be strongly left-brained -- which may not appeal to those writers who hate following outlines and schedules. To prove her points, she uses unusually long excerpts from her own novels, as well as from many other authors' novels, such as Toni Morrison, Ernest Hemingway, Faulkner, John Fowles, Dennis Lehane, Barbara Kingsolver, P.D. James, etc. When I first read the book, I found these excerpts unnecessarily long and very distracting. The second time I read the book, I enjoyed the excerpts more, although I still think many of them could have been shortened.

My bookstore only had this book available in hardcover, but when I checked on Amazon, I discovered that it is available in softcover. I bought the hardcover, and am glad I did, because I think it will be an invaluable addition to my library.

Has anyone else here read this book yet, or read any of Elizabeth George's novels? I haven't yet read any of her novels, but plan to try out her first published book, Deliverance, from the library. Her previous two efforts at a mystery novel were never published. She wrote the rough draft of deliverance (all 500 pages!) in a mere 3 1/2 weeks! She calls that process the value of possessing super-strong "bum glue"!

Jamesaritchie
05-27-2005, 06:09 AM
This book is very well-written, detailed, and inspirational. I've read lots of "how to" writing books, and this ranks at the top. Elizabeth George shows that keeping track of the process is just as important as the actual writing of the novel itself. She provides many enlightening and very honest examples of her thinking process from when she was writing past novels. She provides real examples from previous novels of her "tools", such as her "step outline" and "running plot outline". Her process does tend to be strongly left-brained -- which may not appeal to those writers who hate following outlines and schedules. To prove her points, she uses unusually long excerpts from her own novels, as well as from many other authors' novels, such as Toni Morrison, Ernest Hemingway, Faulkner, John Fowles, Dennis Lehane, Barbara Kingsolver, P.D. James, etc. When I first read the book, I found these excerpts unnecessarily long and very distracting. The second time I read the book, I enjoyed the excerpts more, although I still think many of them could have been shortened.

My bookstore only had this book available in hardcover, but when I checked on Amazon, I discovered that it is available in softcover. I bought the hardcover, and am glad I did, because I think it will be an invaluable addition to my library.

Has anyone else here read this book yet, or read any of Elizabeth George's novels? I haven't yet read any of her novels, but plan to try out her first published book, Deliverance, from the library. Her previous two efforts at a mystery novel were never published. She wrote the rough draft of deliverance (all 500 pages!) in a mere 3 1/2 weeks! She calls that process the value of possessing super-strong "bum glue"!

I tried reading it, and in all honesty, couldn't get past the first few pages. I skimmed the rest, and while I have no doubt teh advice in it will work for some, it won't work for others, and it's more than just a left-brained, outline or not proposition.

I believe Elizabeth George wrote "A Great Deliverance." James Dickey wrote "Deliverance." Two very different novels.

Hemingway and Faulkner are. . .odd. . .choices for her to use as examples, considering how different their writing methods were from George's.

I'd hold off on calling this how-to book good or bad until you see how well the advice works for you, and how well you like George's writing. A book where the advice doesn't work for you is a bad book for you, and if you don't like the writer's novels, that writer's how-to book is also probably a bad book for you.
If yu don't like the way a writer writes fiction, odds are high you don't want to follow his or her writing advice.

The only good how-to book is one that actually helps you write better stories, and while all the things George mentions apparently work very well for her, they don't work at all for many other writers, even many who are left-brained and who outline.

I think you have to like a writer's novels, and you then have to put the writer's advice into serious practice, before you know whether or not it's gold or iron pyrite.

clotje
05-29-2005, 12:56 AM
I love...adore...worship Elizabeth George and read all of her books including Write Away. I wrote my books using her method and thought it was very helpful indeed. Once I've finished landscaping my garden I'll reread it.

I love her literary thrillers. She's brilliant in creating characters and places. I was amazed when I found out that she was an American and not a British writer!

Jamesaritchie
05-29-2005, 07:26 AM
I love...adore...worship Elizabeth George and read all of her books including Write Away. I wrote my books using her method and thought it was very helpful indeed. Once I've finished landscaping my garden I'll reread it.

I love her literary thrillers. She's brilliant in creating characters and places. I was amazed when I found out that she was an American and not a British writer!

I think loving the writer's novels is the key. My advice to new writers is to read the novels of any writer with a how-to book. If you love those novels, the how-to book will probably be extremely helpful to you. If you don't like those novels, the how-to book probably won't work for you.

Just as not all novels work for all readers, all how-to books will not help all writers. You have to read the fiction before you know whether or not a how-to book is good or bad for you.

Soccer Mom
07-07-2006, 05:22 PM
Great advice. I love Elizabeth George's novels and the techniques she discusses work for me. I am an obsessive outliner and plotter (which is very important in my genre of mystery/suspense). But she proves that you can not neglect to make the story ultimately about interesting people. They must drive the plot, not the other way around.

texttussi
07-08-2006, 02:43 PM
I love this book. It is exactly what I have been looking for. I am not someone who just sits down and starts to write (like Stephen King recommends in his book). I need a pretty good map of what to do otherwise I am lost. So far I have read many books on the craft of writing but I somehow didn't know how to start. Do I start with the characters or with a rough idea? Do I start with research or do I start with the story and verify the facts later on? I have always been insecure and thought that the way I did it was somehow not the right way. So I got caught up in my desire for perfection and didn't get anything done. (I am good at not getting anything done for fear of doing it badly I have to admit :shrug: )
So this book gave me a tried and true way to tackle a book project. And I am pretty sure I can do it. :e2BIC:

I can only recommend this book!
Julia

Jamesaritchie
07-08-2006, 10:19 PM
I love this book. It is exactly what I have been looking for. I am not someone who just sits down and starts to write (like Stephen King recommends in his book). I need a pretty good map of what to do otherwise I am lost. So far I have read many books on the craft of writing but I somehow didn't know how to start. Do I start with the characters or with a rough idea? Do I start with research or do I start with the story and verify the facts later on? I have always been insecure and thought that the way I did it was somehow not the right way. So I got caught up in my desire for perfection and didn't get anything done. (I am good at not getting anything done for fear of doing it badly I have to admit :shrug: )
So this book gave me a tried and true way to tackle a book project. And I am pretty sure I can do it. :e2BIC:

I can only recommend this book!
Julia

I write the way Stephen King writes, and teh way Ray Bradbury writes, but one thing I'd say is this. There is no wrong way to start a novel, there's only a wrong way to finish it.

Perfect never comes on the first try, and perfect never comes in the first draft, no matter how you start. Perfect, in fact, never, ever comes at all. There is no such thing as a perfect novel, whether it's first draft or final, whether the novel is losuy, or whether the novel stays at the top of the bestseller list for a year.

The best any of us do is merely Good Enough.

Kate Thornton
07-09-2006, 12:49 AM
There is no wrong way to start a novel, there's only a wrong way to finish it.

While I like Elizabeth George's novels, for me her method of tackling a book project turns an excited rush into unknown and thrilling territory (the process of writing) into a tedious chore that I don't want to do.

But I know we all write differently - James said it best.

Josie
07-15-2006, 09:56 AM
I have read nearly all of Elizabeth George's novels and love them.

I've also glanced at her Write Way. Unfortunately I have to also say I find her method of writing tedious and boring. But I may change my mind some day.

I've learned that the way I write a novel varies with each one.

Guess I'm still learning.

:Shrug: