Review: A Guide to Writing Your Novel

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It was a dark and stormy night…

Poor Snoopy never got any farther on his novel than that and, unfortunately for many would-be writers, neither do most of the rest of us.  I have dreamed of writing a book since I was in high school, a dream shared by many teens — and successfully realized by a handful of them, most notably,  homeschooled student, Christopher Paolini of Eragon fame — including my own daughter.

Yes, you read that right.  My grumbler of all things written actually enjoys working on her novel.  She’s been at it since April or so and writes every chance she gets, either on her laptop or in a spiral-bound notebook that she carries around to take advantage of unexpected snippets of time.  So, if you’re thinking that I’d do just about anything to encourage Brianna in her writing, you thought right, which is why I jumped at the chance to review A Guide to Writing Your Novel, by Lee Roddy, author of Grizzly Adams.

A Guide to Writing Your Novel is published by the incredible folks at Institute for Excellence in Writing, the well-known writing instruction curriculum that we’re using this year (initial review coming soon…but we’re loving it!).  This 140-page, spiral-bound guide, written specifically for teens and older aspiring writers, offers a wealth of tips and information on moving your novel from idea to actuality.  It also happens to be one of the first review products that I’ve asked Brianna to help me with that she’s actually been excited about.

Both of us were really impressed with the way the guide is laid out.  First, is the introduction which excites and inspires, really making the reader feel that their dream of becoming a published author does have the possibility of becoming a reality.  What really got me excited was that, right there in the introduction, was a testimonial from author Tricia Goyer, a published author whom I follow on Twitter!  A real, live author that I know — because, of course you know the people you follow on Twitter — credits A Guide to Writing Your Novel author, Lee Roddy with her success as a published author!  How cool is that?  And, Tricia isn’t the only one.  There may be testimonials from author’s whose names you recognize, as well.

Next you move into the overview of the guide and right into how to develop your characters.  There are three chapters devoted to plotting a general novel, then, the part that Brianna and I both really liked — separate chapters devoted to writing a variety of genres, offering genre-specific tips. Specific genres covered include:

  • Mystery
  • Young readers
  • Suspense
  • Category romance

There is an entire chapter devoted to instruction on how to research and interview for your novel, which I thought was really cool.  As a reader, I love learning new things about periods in history and places.  I know that I wouldn’t enjoy the books I read as much as I do if the authors didn’t spend time researching and interviewing in order to create realistic, believable settings and characters and including knowledgeable details.

We really enjoyed the fact that the guide was written in a conversational style, just as if the reader were listening to the author speaking in person at one of the classes, workshops or seminars that he has taught for over 30 years.  With detailed examples throughout the guide, Lee Roddy not only tells you how to write a novel, but he shows you.

Both Brianna and I found the guide well-written and helpful and we’re both excited about putting into practice the principles we’re learning from A Guide to Wring your Novel, which is available from Institute for Excellence in Writing for only $25.  As the author says, “Even those writers who only write for fun will enjoy their work more with the guidance in this book.

I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it.  I received no other compensation for this review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions.  Your experience may vary.

Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. This sounds awesome! I heard of this, but hadn't looked into it. It's nice to know more about it. Thanks for the review!

  2. Hi love your blog I have heard of this program but have always worried it was too intensive for my reluctant writer. Looking forward to your review on the program. I am sending on to you a blog award:) Check out my site:)

  3. OOOOO- I really need to get my hands on a copy of this! Especially since I am going to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year! Eeek- I am so nervous and excited! Have you heard of it? You and your daughter should totally do it! They have the adult version and the school-aged version.

    And I love Tricia! How cool that actual authors attribute success to this resource!

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