I was hesitant to read this book for a couple reasons. One, it seemed to be similar to Techniques of a Selling Writer (it wasn’t at all). Being written by a writer and publisher, it deals primarily with the basics to get a novel sold, not just how to write it. Although there are the usual chapters on Character and POV, there are also interesting asides such as how to come up with a title for your novel.
The second reason I put this one at the bottom of the stack was because it was recommended to me by a writer I didn’t respect. A member of my critique group, he thought we were “low-goal writers” who should be writing for the next fad and clawing our way to become Nebula winners. He didn’t last long, but I did order the book he advocated so enthusiastically.
The book is an easy read and does not focus on chasing the latest “hot” trend in writing as I expected. The advice is simple and easy to understand. Unfortunately, it’s also a little out of date as it was written in 1995. There’s an entire chapter on how to prepare a hardcopy manuscript to send to a publisher, and it assumes all writers work with typewriters.
There were many things that Mr. Meredith suggests that other writers do not. For example, many “how to” writers say not to worry about writing a “shitty first draft” as it can be fixed in rewrite. Mr. Meredith believes the first draft should be the final. I tend to agree with him as I don’t do a lot of rewriting. He also says to use one POV and not to use flashbacks as they break the tension. I agree with those suggestions (although I don’t always follow them). He advocates writing what you read and not waste time “trying out” different genres. Again, this does not agree with other DIY writing books I’ve read this year.