What a pleasant surprise Matt Bell‘s Refuse to Be Done: How to Write and Rewrite a Novel in Three Drafts was! After reading the first page or so my immediate reaction was that it was just another for dummies book, too elementary to be useful. But I kept reading and I’m glad I did. My mind was changed for me pretty quickly.
The back cover uses the word “practical” and that’s what we have here: practical tips for the novelist (and, really, any writer) that apply to first ideas through to releasing the book to the world. So many really great ideas all in one slender volume! I was pleased to discover how many of the strategies Bell offers I already use. I was reminded of a few I’d left behind, and boy howdy, you bet I immediately applied them to my current work in progress. So glad I got to that chapter before I reached the deadline to send my manuscript to the editor!
The book’s title confused me in the beginning, until I realized how right-on it was. A novel doesn’t go from the author’s imagination to the shelves of a bookstore like magic. Writing a novel is a process that requires dogged effort and a level of determination that isn’t talked about much — except when authors whine about having to do one more torturous edit. Writing a book-length document, like any hero’s journey, requires Refusing to Be Done.
Excellent book. Five stars!