Writing the Popular Novel by Loren D. Estleman

(Cover picture courtesy of Amazon.)

Writing great fiction is, quite simply, hard work.  It requires dedication to the craft, hours of thought and research, attention to detail and sentence structure, a clear understanding of the submission process, and so much more.  In Writing the Popular Novel, Pulitzer Prize-nominee and award-winning author Loren D. Estleman draws on his vast experience to teach you the awareness and skills you need to turn your efforts into a rewarding, exciting experience.

Estleman offers invaluable instruction on the craft behind writing commercial fiction and provides you with a smart, honest look at today’s competitive publishing industry.  This thorough guide features:

  • A detailed overview of literary genres with information on how to decide which one is right for you.
  • Instruction on how to conduct research and how to make the leap from research to writing.
  • An in-depth look at dialogue, point of view, and other writing techniques.
  • Tips on how to know who your target audience is and how to deliver a story that will keep them reading.
  • A look at more than twenty opening lines from popular novels, with ideas on how to create your own.
  • Advice on working with agents and editors to develop a successful, long-term career.

At once thoughtful and engaging, Writing the Popular Novel provides new and experienced writers with an unmatched resource for writing and selling their fiction!

Writing the Popular Novel was the first book on writing I ever picked up and I’m glad it was because it remains one of the best ones I’ve ever read.  It’s comprehensive, concise, and gives practical advice on dealing with rejection from agents and editors.

One of the things modern writers (especially self-published ones) may not like is Loren Estleman’s views on self-publishing.  But you have to take into account that this book was written in 2004, before self-published writers had access to all of the great resources that are out there now.  More people are becoming accepting of self-publishing (myself included), but things weren’t nearly always like that.  Self-published authors are still looked on with disdain now, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was in 2004, or even 2009.

Other than his little spiel about self-publishing, Writing the Popular Novel is just as relevant today as it was in 2004.  Loren Estleman explains the five different points of view authors may use, how to write believable dialogue, using an outline, writing the climax of your novel and so many more practical things authors should learn about.  He also debunks some of the most prevalent and annoying myths that frequently crop up in fiction, especially ones about guns.  As someone who grew up in a rural area, I find myself laughing until I cry at some gun scenes in novels and short stories.  Please don’t be the author that makes me do this; I (and other reviewers) will call you out on your faulty research.

With an entertaining style and practical, relevant advice, I would recommend Writing the Popular Novel to any writers, both new and experienced, traditionally published or self-published.  If you’re going to buy only one book on writing, this should be the one.

I give this book 4.5/5 stars.

Amazon*    Barnes and Noble*

*Unfortunately, it’s out of print right now so you’ll have to pick up a used book or see if it’s been made into an ebook.

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