Written by author and writing tutor Sophie King, How To Write Your First Novel is a book designed to take writers through every stage of the process of writing their first novel.
The book is 240 pages long and consists of 21 chapters which are broken down into smaller segments containing information, tips, advice, examples, exercises and quotes about the process of writing and publishing a novel.
Some of the tips from the author include:
"Find your best writing time. You might find that you are fresher in the morning. But you might discover that you get a second wind in the evening" (p. 16)
"[If you're serious about writing] you have to...squeeze an extra 15 minutes or ideally an hour into your day so you can write" (p. 3)
"Little and often is better than nothing at all. Five minutes a day helps you keep the plot in your head more than an hour a week" (p. 15)
"Write about what you know - but give it a twist" (p. 38)
"Know your characters inside out - even down to the toothpaste they use and whether they polish the house every day or once a month. Don't base them on one particular person [and] give them frailties and problems so they are human" (p. 105).
"Milk the baddy for all he's worth. He can add a lot to a novel" (p. 105)
Show, don't tell. "This can be achieved by using strong language, getting inside a character's head or using dialogue" (p. 153)
The first chapter 'Are you ready to commit?' discusses the practical side of writing, including:
The next few chapters discuss coming up with ideas for your novel, and finding your 'writing voice'.
The middle part of the book is devoted to the technical aspects of writing, and include chapters such as:
It's all in the plot
Who are you? How to create convincing characters
The art of revision
This section is quite thorough - particularly the two chapters on plot, which include the author's techniques, tips and plotting method, and some of the other plotting methods that her students find effective.
The book has lots of information on creating characters
Overall, the book provides a good starting point for writers looking to write and publish a novel, however, there are a couple of things worth keeping in mind:
Some of the content isn't relevant for Australian writers
The book is written by an author from the UK, and the publishing section in particular, is probably more suited to readers from the UK (eg. many of the websites mentioned in the book are UK-based and discussions about payments refer to pounds etc)
Self-publishing is only mentioned very briefly in the book.
Over the last few years, I've noticed an increasing number of writers choosing to self-publish their novels (particularly in the form of e-books) - often with a lot of success - so I believe that this is definitely a valid option for new authors to consider these days. For those who are considering self-publishing, I'd probably recommend a book that goes into this topic in more depth (as well as utilising many of the online self-publishing resources).