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The Nighttime Novelist: Finish Your Novel in Your Spare Time    by Joseph Bates order for
Nighttime Novelist
by Joseph Bates
Order:  USA  Can
Writers Digest, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In his Introduction to his accessible, spiral-bound The Nighttime Novelist, Dr. Joseph Bates (an author of both fiction and non-fiction, who teaches in the creative writing program at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio) comments on the fact that 'there are only a handful of writers working who make their living solely by their fiction' and that 'These Nighttime Novelists publish the majority of the books on the shelves.' Think big name authors like Toni Morrison, Agatha Christie, and Charles Dickens.

He offers his book to help others join their ranks, by making the most of that time they are able to devote to writing. The volume is in three parts - Beginnings (Developing Initial Ideas to Opening Scene & First-Act Structure), Middles (Crafting & Maintaining Suspense to Pivotal Scenes: Plotting & Pacing) and Endings (The Art of Closing Well to Revision: Discovering What You Meant). At the end of each part of the book is a Coffee Break review of progress to date and suggestions on how to plan what's next.

Bates' tells us that 'Writing a novel begins not in a moment of work but a moment of play'. His topics include how to get started; brainstorming; establishing a character arc; finding your voice; building a world; learning to toy with the reader; maintaining suspense, organic story growth; and finding your theme, 'the ultimate unifying force in a novel.' Along the way, he regularly quotes published writers, as in Ray Bradbury's 'Find out what your hero wants. Then just follow him' and Elmore Leonard's 'I try to leave out the parts that people skip') and illustrates his points with examples from published works like Lord of the Rings and Silence of the Lambs.

This very practical how to book ends with sage tips on workspace and working habits, and twenty-seven worksheets that are referenced in the earlier chapters and can help develop ideas. If you are, or ever hope to be a nighttime novelist, then this volume would make a valuable addition to your writing bookshelf.

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