Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books And How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence
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More About This Title Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books And How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence


Unlike most writing books, Nail Your Novel is about process. I’ve been a professional author and writing coach for 20 years. I've also ghosted bestselling novels, so I know a thing or two about finishing what I start. I also know the panic a writer feels when I tell them they need to unravel their structure, or hasten the pace, or strip away back story, or use their material to serve the artistic vision, or merge characters, or sort out how many Tuesdays are in a week. I understand how they need to control their material so they can write and edit with confidence. So I wrote a book about how I do this.
Here's the back cover blurb:

Are you writing a novel? Do you want to make sure you finish? Will you get lost and fizzle out? Will you spend more time reading about how to write than actually getting the words down?

Most books on novel-writing will make you read hundreds of pages about character arcs, inciting incidents, heroes’ journeys. It’s great to know that – but while you’re reading about it you’re not writing your book.

And what these books don’t tell you is how to use this learning and get the job done. Nail Your Novel holds your hand all the way. It’s a writing buddy – and mentor – to get you from beginning to end.

What's more, it's a short book. Because I also know that writers are fighting to carve time out of a busy life and would rather produce than procrastinate with a great tome (although if they want they can use it for that too). They don't even need to digest the entire book before they start. If they read a few pages, do as it says and follow the steps, they’ll end up with a written and edited novel.
In 10 easy steps Nail Your Novel will tell you:

how to shape your big idea and make a novel out of it
how to do your research and how to use it
how to organise your time.
how to plot and build characters
when you’re going to hit problems and what to do about them
how to write on the days you don’t feel inspired
how to reread what you’ve written and polish it.

Along the way, Thumbnail Notes give tutorials about storytelling and storycraft – strictly when you need them. I’ve written more than a dozen novels that have made it into print – and this is how I did it.

You don’t even need to read the whole book before you get started. You read a section, then do as it says. And, once you’re finally satisfied, Nail Your Novel will tell you how to sell it to publishers and agents.

You’ve dreamed of writing a novel. Don’t procrastinate with another theory book. Don’t launch in, get stuck and throw your hard work in a drawer. Nail your novel.


Roz Morris has two decades of experience writing novels and helping floundering authors find their way. She is a senior book doctor for a major literary consultancy in London, writes fiction under her own name and has ghostwritten bestselling fiction for high-profile writers with major publishers, including Random House, Puffin and Mammoth.


Why a planned novel is more likely to succeed in today’s market. What this book is and how to use it. thumbnail notes on writercraft. Start now.
1 Why people start novels and don’t finish
My abandoned book – a cautionary tale. Why I developed a plan.
FAQs - Why a system can help you be more creative, not less.
Your personality type and how it affects the way you write.
Tailor the system to your needs.
To resurrect your abandoned manuscript.
Importance of taking a break to get critical distance.
2 Before you start the manuscript
Aims at this stage. What you’re ignoring.
task 1… Shaping your inspiration. Nurturing ideas.
task 2… Starting this specific novel. Putting flesh on the initial idea. Character. Genre. Filling in the blanks. Plot thickeners. The wish-not list. Working library.
task 3… Focused research. How to research. The hat game.
task 4… A structural survey for your novel. The cards game. Fill in blanks. Writing a novel based on your own experiences. Sub-plots. Keeping your plot focused. Got enough plot? Assessing an existing draft or partial draft. Know your ending.
task 5… Detailed synopsis. Making major changes.
Aims recap. Ready to start the actual text
3 The first draft
Aims at this stage. What you’re ignoring.
task 6… How to free your muse and turn off your inner critic.
Rules for this stage. Show not tell How to deviate without losing your way. Block busters, including creative games for when you don’t know what to do.
How to keep yourself at the desk when you’re not in the mood. Targets and other writing incentives. Emergency rescue library. A soundtrack for your novel. Prepare for tomorrow. Make a personal details file. The Outtakes file. Aims recap.
task 7… Before you look at your manuscript again.
4 Before you rewrite
How rough your manuscript will look and why that’s good. Your novel is now a new creature. Characters take over.
task 8… The beat sheet game. How to take control of pace, tone, story mechanics, arcs, beginning, middle, end, tensions, sub-plots, purpose of each scene, timeline, themes, characters. Making changes. Mission statement for rewriting. If you need to fundamentally re-plan. Assessing an abandoned manuscript. Aims recap. Ready to rewrite.
5 The rewrites
Aims at this stage
task 9… Revising your manuscript. Viewpoint, format and voice. How to use the beat sheet. If you get stuck. The Outtakes file. Targets. The beginning. Dialogue. Other smart revision alerts - facts, consistency, timeline, show not tell, relics of your previous draft. Kill your darlings. Spelling etc. Chapter beginnings and endings. Are you sure you’ve finished?
6 Sending your novel to seek its fortune
The publishing business. Give your novel the best chance you can. Getting feedback. Friends or professional critics? How to use criticism. Sending it out. Agent or publisher?
task 10… Your submission package. Make a 100,000-word novel into a 1,000-word synopsis. Extreme summary – the 50-word pitch. Dos and don’ts of the cover letter.
About the author


'On my shortlist of indispensable writing books' - Lisa Cron, author of Wired For Story

'This book should be used as a text in writing courses'

'There are shedloads of books on how to write novels, and a lot of them are longer and considerably less useful'

'I wish I'd had this book a long time ago'

'The author has a proven track record as a writer of fiction, as opposed to writers of "how to write" books'

5.0 out of 5 stars Concrete tasks to get words on the page August 25, 2010
By Ann Marie Gamble
I find one of the fearsome tasks in writing a novel to be managing the amount of information and number of tasks it takes to finish. Morris's steps (with several concrete suggestions for implementing) keep my eyes on the ground so I can I take action (do some writing).

The tactics she suggests are drawn from creative endeavors besides writing, which makes them useful to people with different processes for writing--you can adapt the exercise whether you work first on plot or character, outline or full draft.

Although the book is easy to read, I've been moving slowly through it since each section has gotten me generating more ideas about my current project.
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68 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes. August 12, 2010
By F. M. Payne
I am an aspiring writer who lacks the confidence to push to the end with my stories.

Not long ago, I took this book as company on a long train journey to Sheffield. I was going to visit a friend who is also an aspiring writer. By the time I got up there I had read it twice and felt compelled, out of friendship, to give him my copy immediately upon my arrival. So, dammit, I will have to buy another one.

We spent the weekend playing `the card game' for a co-authoring project. It may come to nought, but it was lovely to feel the buzz again, all the same. I am enjoying writing again, and I have improved a great deal as a result of this book.

I have just checked; I have 14 How To Write Books. Many are the 'must have' books that you are led to understand anyone who wants to write should have. This book is in the top three.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roz Resonates August 30, 2010
By D. A. Hickman
I follow the Roz Morris blog, Nail Your Novel, and find it focused, insightful, and extremely professional. Roz is a wonderful teacher, and, as a bonus, she's an insightful spirit with wonderful karma. If you have a few novels in a file drawer, or even a single novel that you want to polish for publication, this book will be the best investment you could make. The clarity alone is worth your time! Roz has a way of seeing straight through to core issues and not wasting your time ... even as she explains, in depth, craft components that you absolutely must master to take your novel to the next level. Writers at any level will benefit by reading Roz -- I strongly recommend this publication!
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well Written and Idea Packed...but Not for Some January 27, 2012
By Michael Edwards
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
I decided to read Ms. Morris' book to help revive a stack of old books and stories I never finished writing. The pile is rather large, and I hoped that the book would give me the tools I needed to finish and publish them. Sadly, it didn't work for me. I believe that the target audience for her book is writers who have one or two manuscripts in rough form that need a nudge to get them done. It's not for those whose writings are so fly-by-the-seat-of-one's-pants or deeply muddled that they need a serious spring cleaning -- not fine tuning. There's a group of would-be writers who may need to read more basic books on writing techniques in order to learn how to write synopses and plot scenes. Her book does not delve deeply into these writing techniques.

To her credit, the author gives readers a potpourri of good suggestions on how to break writer's block and improve a novel. She offers some excellent recommendations with easy-to-remember buzzwords like "outtakes," "block busters," and "beat sheets." For writers stuck in the middle of their novel who need inspiration, these are great tools to push it from draft to publication. The ending wraps up with a toolbox full of ideas on how to do this and ends with a chapter on preparing the manuscript to send to a publisher.

I recommend this book for experienced writers with a basic knowledge of writing who want additional writing tips. For those further along in their careers, it could be an indispensable resource. But this book isn't for every aspiring writer. For those literally dusting off that decades-old manuscript in a drawer needing extensive rework before it sees light of day, they may be better off starting with a basic "how-to" manual.