This is one of the most useful books I’ve read on writing. Amazon review, Writing: A User Manual
‘It’s finishing the book that counts’
As a prolific writer, David has been in demand for writing tuition classes all over the world. But time constraints mean that these days his advice is largely confined to blogs on this site and his occasional books on writing. These are designed to be practical manuals, more concerned with the hard labour of writing fiction than the theory behind it.
There are blind alleys, and ways to avoid them. There are elephant traps, and ways to sidestep them. There’s praise, and ways to parse it. There’s criticism, and ways to respond to it. And ways not to. Once the words are on the page, you step out of the office and into the jungle. You need a guide.
You need David Hewson. Lee Child
Writing A Novel with Ulysses
Ulysses is my chosen writing tool for the simple reason it works. More than ever now because it runs not just on the Mac but on iOS too, on iPads and iPhones with the latest version. Writing A Novel with Ulysses, which is precisely what it says: a guide to using the app with the express purpose of producing fiction. It covers the basics of the app and how to use it for developing a novel, from structure to revision and outlining, with a few tips on how to get the most out of a tool that manages a rare combination of simplicity and power.
It’s not an A-Z guide to Ulysses, nor do I cover some of the tasks for which the app is popular, such as writing web code. This is a book for people who want to get up to speed very quickly with Ulysses as a tool for writing fiction — and then get on with the job. There’s also a chapter on how to use Ulysses to write spec scripts for TV and film, something it’s very good at once you understand the approach.
Writing A Novel with Scrivener
This isn’t a comprehensive ‘how to master Scrivener’ guide for everyone. It’s a selective, highly personal and opinionated look at Scrivener from the point of view of an author looking to write a novel. It tackles basic structure, writing, revising and delivering a book.
So don’t expect a replacement for the Scrivener manual or the program’s excellent tutorial. It’s a focussed guide for writing fiction designed to be used with my own template for Scrivener which is available for free here. You can find Writing A Novel with Scrivener through Amazon’s Kindle sites throughout the world — and read what users think of the book there too.
Writing: A User Manual
There are lots of books about writing theory. This is one about writing practice, what it takes in the real world to get a novel finished against all the odds. When your project starts to take off you will find yourself managing a writhing tangle of ideas, possibilities and potential potholes. How do you turn your inspiration into a finished novel? Writing a User’s Manual offers practical insight into the processes that go into writing a novel, from planning to story development, research to revision and, finally, delivery in a form which will catch the eye of an agent or publisher.
You’ll learn how to get the best out of software and novel writing packages such as Scrivener, which help you view your novel not as one piece of text, but as individual linked scenes, each with their own statistics, notes and place within the novel structure. As you write, you will need to assemble the main building blocks to underpin your artistry : story structure; genre – and how that affects what you write; point of view; past, present or future tense; software for keeping a book journal to manage your ideas, research and outlining; organisation and more.
The advice contained in this book could mean the difference between finishing your novel, and a never-ending work in progress. An essential tool for writers of all kinds. With a foreword by Lee Child.
What readers think
As an amateur who didn’t study English at Oxford, I learned far more from this guide than I did from entire semester on a UEA Creative Writing module.
I had high hopes for this book, and I wasn’t disappointed. David gives some excellent advice and also provides examples to drive his point home. Very good, and I have already begun applying some of his advice to my own work. Writing an outline at the get go is definitely helping with the structure, and also pinpointing what genre it is.
This is the single most useful text I have read, including OU texts on starting to write fiction. I particularly liked the “work in progress” which is developed throughout the book as a practical example and the encouraging yet realistic tone used throughout.