This Year You Write Your Novel

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Don't let any feeling keep you from writing. Don't let the world slow you down. Your story is the most important thing coming down the line this year. It's your year-make the most of it...The process of writing a novel is like taking a journey by boat. You have to continually set yourself on course. If you get distracted or allow yourself to drift, you will never make it to the destination. It's not like highly defined train tracks or a highway; this is a path that you are creating, discovering. The journey is ...
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New York 2007 HB in orange cloth boards w black spine titling, in orange 1st edition, 1st printing. New/New Offers both motivation and instruction. Mint copy of HB 1st in bright ... jacket. 5-1/2 x 8-1/2, 111 pp, index. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Don't let any feeling keep you from writing. Don't let the world slow you down. Your story is the most important thing coming down the line this year. It's your year-make the most of it...The process of writing a novel is like taking a journey by boat. You have to continually set yourself on course. If you get distracted or allow yourself to drift, you will never make it to the destination. It's not like highly defined train tracks or a highway; this is a path that you are creating, discovering. The journey is your narrative. Keep to it and there will be a tale told.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
With Mosley as instructor, how can your novel go wrong? Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316065412
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 4/3/2007
  • Pages: 112
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Walter Mosley is the author of the acclaimed Easy Rawlins series of mysteries including national bestsellers Blonde Faith, Cinnamon Kiss, Little Scarlet, Bad Boy Brawly Brown, the Fearless Jones series including Fearless Jones and Fear Itself, the novels Blue Light and RL's Dream, and two collections of stories featuring Socrates Fortlow, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, for which he received the Anisfield-Wolf Award, and Walkin' the Dog. He was born in Los Angeles and lives in New York.

Biography

When President Bill Clinton announced that Walter Mosley was one of his favorite writers, Black Betty (1994), Mosley's third detective novel featuring African American P.I. Easy Rawlins, soared up the bestseller lists. It's little wonder Clinton is a fan: Mosley's writing, an edgy, atmospheric blend of literary and pulp fiction, is like nobody else's. Some of his books are detective fiction, some are sci-fi, and all defy easy categorization.

Mosley was born in Los Angeles, traveled east to college, and found his way into writing fiction by way of working as a computer programmer, caterer, and potter. His first Easy Rawlins book, Gone Fishin' didn't find a publisher, but the next, Devil in a Blue Dress (1990) most certainly did -- and the world was introduced to a startlingly different P.I.

Part of the success of the Easy Rawlins series is Mosley's gift for character development. Easy, who stumbles into detective work after being laid off by the aircraft industry, ages in real time in the novels, marries, and experiences believable financial troubles and successes. In addition, Mosley's ability to evoke atmosphere -- the dangers and complexities of life in the toughest neighborhoods of Los Angeles -- truly shines. His treatment of historic detail (the Rawlins books take place in Los Angeles from the 1940s to the mid-1960s) is impeccable, his dialogue fine-tuned and dead-on.

In 2002, Mosley introduced a new series featuring Fearless Jones, an Army vet with a rigid moral compass, and his friend, a used-bookstore owner named Paris Minton. The series is set in the black neighborhoods of 1950s L.A. and captures the racial climate of the times. Mosley himself summed up the first book, 2002's Fearless Jones, as "comic noir with a fringe of social realism."

Despite the success of his bestselling crime series, Mosley is a writer who resolutely resists pigeonholing. He regularly pens literary fiction, short stories, essays, and sci-fi novels, and he has made bold forays into erotica, YA fiction, and political polemic. "I didn't start off being a mystery writer," he said in an interview with NPR. "There's many things that I am." Fans of this talented, genre-bending author could not agree more!

Good To Know

Mosley won a Grammy award in 2002 in the category of "Best Album Notes" for Richard Pryor.... And It's Deep, Too! The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings (1968-1992).

Mosley is an avid potter in his spare time.

In our 2004 interview, Mosley reveals:

"I was a computer programmer for 15 years before publishing my first book. I am an avid collector of comic books. And I believe that war is rarely the answer, especially not for its innocent victims."

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 12, 1952
    2. Place of Birth:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Education:
      B.A., Johnson State College
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

This Year You Write Your Novel


By Walter Mosley

Little, Brown and Company

Copyright © 2007 Walter Mosley
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-316-06541-2


Chapter One

The General Disciplines That Every Writer Needs

writing every day

The first thing you have to know about writing is that it is something you must do every day-every morning or every night, whatever time it is that you have. Ideally, the time you decide on is also the time when you do your best work.

There are two reasons for this rule: getting the work done and connecting with your unconscious mind.

If you want to finish this novel of yours within a year, you have to get to work! There's not a moment to lose. There's no time to wait for inspiration. Getting your words down on the page takes time. How much? I write three hours every morning. It's the first thing I do, Monday through Sunday, fifty-two weeks a year. Some days I miss but rarely does this happen more than once a month. Writing is a serious enterprise that takes a certain amount of constancy and rigor.

But will and regularity are only the beginnings of the discipline and rewards that daily writing will mean for you.

The most important thing I've found about writing is that it is primarily an unconscious activity. What do I mean by this? I mean that a novel is larger thanyour head (or conscious mind). The connections, moods, metaphors, and experiences that you call up while writing will come from a place deep inside you. Sometimes you will wonder who wrote those words. Sometimes you will be swept up by a fevered passion relating a convoluted journey through your protagonist's ragged heart. These moments are when you have connected to some deep place within you, a place that harbors the zeal that made you want to write to begin with.

The way you get to this unconscious place is by writing every day. Or not even writing. Some days you may be rewriting, rereading, or just sitting there scrolling back and forth through the text. This is enough to bring you back into the dream of your story.

What, you ask, is the dream of a story? This is a mood and a continent of thought below your conscious mind-a place that you get closer to with each foray into the words and worlds of your novel.

You may have spent only an hour and a half working on the book, but the rest of the day will be rife with motive moments in your unconsciousness-moments in your mind, which will be mulling over the places your words have touched. While you sleep, mountains are moving deep within your psyche. When you wake up and return to the book, you will be amazed by the realization that you are further along than when you left off yesterday.

If you skip a day or more between your writing sessions, your mind will drift away from these deep moments of your story. You will find that you'll have to slog back to a place that would have been easily attained if only you wrote every day.

Some days you will sit down and nothing will come-that's all right. Some days you'll wish you had given yourself more time-that's okay too. You can always pick up tomorrow where you left off today.

In order to be a writer, you have to set up a daily routine. Put aside an amount of time (not less than an hour and a half) to sit with your computer or notebook. I know that this is difficult. Some of you live in tight spaces with loved ones. Some of you work so hard that you can't see straight half the time. Some of you have little ones who might need your attention at any time of the day or night.

I wish I had the answers to these problems. I don't. All I can tell you is that if you want to finish your novel this year, you have to write each and every day.

learning how to write without restraint

Self-restraint is what makes it possible for society to exist. We refrain, most of the time, from expressing our rage and lust. Most of us do not steal or murder or rape. Many words come into our minds that we never utter-even when we're alone. We imagine terrible deeds but push them out of our thoughts before they've had a chance to emerge fully.

Almost all adult human beings are emotionally restrained. Our closest friends, our coworkers, and our families never know the brutal and deviant urges and furies that reside in our breasts.

This restraint is a good thing. I know that my feelings are often quite antisocial. Sometimes I just see someone walking down the street and the devil in me wants to say things that would be awful to hear. No good would come from my expressing these asocial instincts-at least not usually.

The writer, however, must loosen the bonds that have held her back all these years. Sexual lust, hate for her own children, the desire to taste the blood of her enemy-all these things and many more must, at times, crowd the writer's mind.

Your protagonist, for instance, may at a certain moment despise his mother. "She stinks of red wine and urine," he thinks. "And she looks like a shriveled, pitted prune."

This is an unpleasant sentiment, to be sure. But does it bring your hero's character into focus? This is the only question that's important. And there's no getting around it. Your characters will have ugly sides to them; they will be, at times, sexually deviant, bitter, racist, cruel.

"Sure," you say, "the antagonists, the bad guys in my book, will be like that but not the heroes and heroines."

Not so.

The story you tell, the characters you present, will all have dark sides to them. If you want to write believable fiction, you will have to cross over the line of your self-restraint and revel in the words and ideas that you would never express in your everyday life.

Our social moorings aren't the only things that restrain our creative impulses. We are also limited by false aesthetics: those notions that we have developed in schools and libraries, and from listening to critics that adhere to some misplaced notion of a literary canon. Many writers come to the discipline after having read the old, and new, masters. They read Dickens and Melville, Shakespeare and Homer. From these great books of yore, they develop tics and reflexes that cause their words to become stiff and unnatural.

Many writers, and teachers of writing, spend so much time comparing work to past masters that they lose the contemporary voice of the novel being created on this day.

You will not become a writer by aping the tones and phrases, form and content, of great books of the past. Your novel lies in your heart; it is a book about today, no matter in which era it is set, written for a contemporary audience to express a story that could only have come from you.

Don't get me wrong-you can read anything and learn from it. But your learning will also come from modern songs, newscasts, magazine articles, and conversations overheard on the street. A novel is a pedestrian work about the everyday lives of bricklayers and saints.

Another source of restraint for the writer is the use of personal confession and the subsequent guilt that often arises from it. Many writers use themselves, their families, and their friends as models for the characters they portray. A young woman who has had a difficult time with her mother may render a tale in which the mother seems overly harsh, maybe even heartless. She (the writer) wades in, telling the story in all its truth and ugliness, but then, feeling guilt, she backs away from it, muddying the water. Maybe she stops writing for a while or changes her subject.

Whatever it is she does, the novel suffers.

This would-be novelist has betrayed herself in order that she not tell the story that has been clawing its way out from her core. She would rather not commit herself to the truth that she has found in the rigor of writing every day.

This form of restraint is common and wholly unnecessary.

To begin with, your mother is not reading what you have written. These words are your private preserve until the day they're published.

Also you should wait until the book is finished before making a judgment on its content. By the time you have gone through twenty drafts, the characters may have developed lives of their own, completely separate from the people you based them on in the beginning. And even if someone, at some time, gets upset with your words-so what? Live your life, sing your song. Anyone who loves you will want you to have that.

Don't let any feeling keep you from writing. Don't let the world slow you down. Your story is the most important thing coming down the line this year. It's your year-make the most of it.

avoidance, false starts, and dead-end thinking

Many writers-in-waiting spend a lot of time avoiding the work at hand. The most common way to avoid writing is by procrastination. This is the writer's greatest enemy. There is little to say about it except that once you decide to write every day, you must make yourself sit at the desk or table for the required period whether or not you are putting down words. Make yourself take the time even if the hours seem fruitless. Ideally, after a few days or weeks of being chained to the desk, you will submit to the story that must be told.

Straightforward procrastination is an author's worst enemy, but there are others: the writer who suddenly has chores that have gone undone for months but that now seem urgent; the diarist who develops a keen wish to write about her experiences today instead of writing her book; the Good Samaritan who realizes that there's a world out there that needs saving; the jack-of-all-trades who, when he begins one project, imagines ten others that are equally or even more important.

Forget all that. Don't write in the journal unless you're writing a chapter of your book. Save the world at 8:30 instead of 7:00. Let the lawn get shaggy and the paint peel from the walls.

For that time you have set aside to write your novel, don't do anything else. Turn the ringer off on your phone. Don't answer the doorbell. Tell your loved ones that you cannot be disturbed. And if they cannot bear to live without you, go write in a coffee shop or library. Rent a room if you have to-just make the time to write your book.

a final note about process

The process of writing a novel is like taking a journey by boat. You have to continually set yourself on course. If you get distracted or allow yourself to drift, you will never make it to the destination. It's not like highly defined train tracks or a highway; this is a path that you are creating, discovering. The journey is your narrative. Keep to it and there will be a tale told.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley Copyright © 2007 by Walter Mosley. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Introduction     3
The General Disciplines That Every Writer Needs     7
Writing Every Day     7
Learning How to Write Without Restraint     10
Avoidance, False Starts, and Dead-End Thinking     13
A Final Note About Process     14
The Elements of Fiction     17
The Narrative Voice     17
First-Person Narrative     18
Third-Person Narrative     22
The Omniscient Narrator     25
Final Notes on Narrative Voice     29
Showing and Telling     30
Sensations     34
Emotions     35
The Pedestrian in Fiction     36
Metaphor and Simile     37
Final Note on Showing and Telling     40
Character and Character Development     40
A Final Note on Character Development     47
Story     48
Intuition Versus Structure     51
Engagement     55
Plot     56
Final Thoughts on Plot and Story     61
The Uses of Poetry in Fiction Writing     62
Where to Begin     65
Congratulations     65
First Words     65
TheMidlands of the Novel     69
Research     70
Rewriting, or Editing     73
The First Draft     73
The Second Draft     74
The Many Drafts That Follow     76
The Elements of Rewriting     78
The Nexus of Character, Story, Theme, and Plot     78
The Devil and the Details     81
Repetition     81
Descriptions and Condensation     82
Dialogue     87
A Solitary Exercise     92
Music     93
When Am I Finished Rewriting?     95
Miscellany     97
On Genre     97
A Note on Aesthetics     98
Writing Workshops     99
Literary Organizations, Agents, Publishers...and Getting Published     101
In Summation     103
Index     105
Read More Show Less

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2007

    Getting published?

    If you need this book of ABC's you probably shouldn't be writing a novel. And if you do write a novel (or story), how do you get it published? Walter Mosley edited the 2003 Best American Short Stories, a bastion of literary fiction. Almost every story was by a graduate of a prestigious MFA program. Despite the credentials of the authors, the collection would rate a weak 2 (some stories were downright bad). And yet this passes for the 'best.' What we need is a frank - a brutally frank - examination of the politics of publication. But that's a book no insider has the guts to write. Of course, some genres, such as mysteries, still have a readership and thus the doors to publication are more open than is the case with literary fiction. Especially if you employ some gimmicks (take a gander at Mosley's photo on his book's inside cover).

    4 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2009

    This is the Year!

    Walter Mosley's no-nonsense attitude and wit really breaks through as he insists there are no excuses.... get writing NOW! He doesn't come across as bossy or irritating, yet he is very persuasive about working now and often on "your novel." (I love how he keeps reminding the reader it is "your novel - the one you are writing this year." It has served me as a lasting affirmation in this process.) This guide is a great place to start - there are certainly more in-depth guides depending on what you are writing about and your style. This book will really motivate you to just START WRITING, no matter what distractions present themselves or how much you doubt your talent as you go! Great advice! And I read the book in one day - got writing that day!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2012

    Good for the beginning writer

    As a novice writer, I eagerly search out books that might help me produce quality work. "This Year You Write Your Novel" was definitely a title that caught my attention. Walter Mosley presents in 110 or so pages how a new writer should structure their time. He talks about first and third person narratives and the lesser known omniscient narrator and the pros and cons about each.

    One of the things I really enjoyed about this book is when the author would show examples by writing a short piece and then rewriting it to give it some flair to underscore the point he was try to make.

    He really states the importance of setting time aside every day to write.

    I thought that this book was an excellent bedside table reference book. It touched on the key subjects but didn't delve deeper. It was a quick read and the reader could definitely refer back to it when writing. If you are loooking for more indepth writing techniques, this isn't the book for you. It is good for those who don't want to be overwhelmed and want someone to hold their hand while they start out.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    2009 Is Almost Gone But You Can Still Get Started Writing that Book

    This book was filled with useful information. We all have a story to tell...we just need to get started on it now and not wait. Walter Mosley encourages anyone to just begin and follow certain criteria but you are not limited to anything. Very insightful.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 2, 2009

    Useful tool

    This book is short and to the point. Gives you a great start on getting organized to write a book and good pointers for success.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2012

    To keily

    Hey babe

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2012

    Hawk

    O i haz gf i was just wondering...btw in rl=irl

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2012

    Dark

    And maybe i was wrong.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2012

    Keily

    Anyone

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