Review is for the 1st edition, not the revised
by bookboy on June 19, 2007Mr. Ray's Weekend Novelist is an excellent reference book. However, I wouldn't necessarily use it as a template for writing a novel . . . unless you plan on writing novels similar to Mr. Ray's or to Ann Tyler's "The Accidental Tourist", the novel that Ray uses as an template throughout citing it as a perfect example of a well written novel.
For those new to the daunting task of writing a novel, this book can pigeonhole you into thinking this is the only way to tackling writing. I came across that dilemma. After getting halfway through the book, doing the exercises and starting to write my own novel I began to abandon my old habits of writing and started to adopt Mr. Ray's. I started to feel that I couldn't put pen to paper UNLESS I completely plotted my novel, developed my characters and set up every scene. This didn't work for me. The natural flow I usually feel when writing was taken away and eventually I completely gave up on the process returning to my methods of writing: sitting down with a pad and pencil and allowing the ideas to flow. Then fine tuning the story only after I have a huge chunk of it written and some idea of what I want to convey. Not all novels are structured in Mr. Ray's manner, not all novels use Aristotle's incline to develop plot and storylines and not all novels can be written in 52 weekends.
Not to say this is a bad book at all. It's a wonderful reference book full of ideas and exercises to help you strengthen your writing. For example, it never occurred to me to create backstories and timelines for each of my characters giving them dimension and realism. Ray also offers exercises to help you set up scenes, write dialogue, write action and plot your novel. I now find that I refer to these exercises to help me develop my writing but I no longer follow the program.
This book is a great starting point for those interested in writing a novel but do not have an idea how to start (one more thing: you definitely have to have some idea of what you want to write BEFORE you start). However, for experienced writers you will find that this book is more useful as a reference guide rather than a program to follow
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