Your First Novel by Anne Rittenberg and Laura Whitcomb

151534Title: Your First Novel
Author: Anne Rittenberg and Laura Whitcomb
Pages: 293
Year: 2006
Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books
Time taken to read: 1 month, 3 weeks
Rating: 2/5

Goodreads synopsis: In “Your First Novel,” novelist Laura Whitcomb and seasoned literary agent Ann Rittenberg team up to provide you with the skills you need to write your dream novel and the savvy business know-how to get it published. In this all-in-one resource, you’ll discover essential novel-writing techniques[…]and insider information on what it takes to get published[…]. Plus, learn about the publishing process from the firsthand accounts of such noted authors as Dennis Lehane, Kathryn Harrison, Jim Fusilli, Kathleen George, and others!

I don’t remember where I got this book, either from my dad or from B&N, but it’s one of the many how-to-write-a-novel books that I’ve had sitting around for ages. I have to say that in 2006, this book might have been good. I was only 11 years old in 2006, so I don’t know how predictable the upcoming technology boom was, but I think these authors chose a very poor time to write this book. It took me back to having to write essays in cursive with a black or blue pen back in middle school, before everything was done on computers. The publishing half of this book goes on and on about the ways to mail copies of your manuscript, but none of that is relevant anymore. Plus, I honestly skimmed the last 50 pages because it was all about what to do once your book is picked up by an agent and then an editor. I’m nowhere near that point, and I’m not interested in reading about what to do when you’re successful. I already spend too much time imagining myself as being more famous than John Green.

The writing half of this book wasn’t that great either. I got the sense that this was written for people who aren’t natural writers. I know how to use punctuation, thanks. I’m only an editor myself. (Shout out to the editing firm that hired me because of this blog.) I did take a few notes while reading this, though, about interesting advice like, “Take a stack of novels in your genre and read the first sentence of all of them.” I’m pretty sure I’d heard that before, but I could use a reminder, I guess. Mostly, though, I got nothing new from this book. Which isn’t to say that no one can find this helpful, but I did not.

Also, yes, you heard correctly: I am nowhere near being published, but I am on a journey to just that. You can read about my book here. (That link is also listed at the top of this blog, under “My book”.)

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