We’re so glad to tell you about WU contributor Steven James’ new book, Troubleshooting Your Novel, out September 20th! He joins us today for a Take Five interview and to give us an exciting glimpse into his new book.
- Q1: Can you tell us a bit about Troubleshooting Your Novel, and how it’s unique in the market?
Steven: This book focuses specifically on easy-to-use ideas for taking fiction writing to the next level. Most books on the craft of writing target one aspect of story—dialogue, characterization, scene structure, etc.
From the start I wanted Troubleshooting Your Novel to be insanely practical and to help writers at any level improve the entire scope of their story. The eighty short, direct chapters cover every aspect of story development, reader engagement, and narrative techniques. The chapters are packed with dozens of checklists and pullout quotes to help authors quickly pinpoint story problems and solve them without the need for expensive story consultants and editors.
Q2: Why this book, now? Did industry changes affect the way you approached this book?
Steven: You’re absolutely right to point out that the industry is changing.
More and more writers are deciding to self-publish their books. While this shift gives authors more freedom and avenues to get their stories in print, it has also resulted in more manuscripts being published without being carefully edited or proofread.
In their ardor to see their book in print, authors are bypassing publishing companies and, by default, the developmental process that their editorial teams provide. This is resulting in a glut of low cost, low quality books flooding the market.
This hurts all of us.
In a world as full of entertainment choices as ours, if readers pick up books that let them down, eventually the dissatisfaction will turn them off from reading. There are plenty of other ways to imbibe on stories.
However, authors can improve their work themselves.
This book will show them how.
Q3: How does Troubleshooting Your Novel complement your previous book on craft, Story Trumps Structure?
Steven: Story Trumps Structure laid out a new paradigm to fiction writing by focusing more on the narrative movement of the story rather than on formulas and plot outlines. Over the past two years it’s been so encouraging to hear from many authors who’ve felt freed by shaking off the shackles of mechanical writing and have explored the benefits of organic writing and have fallen in love with writing again now that they have set their outlines aside.
However, I understand that all authors approach work differently, so I wanted to provide a resource that would help all authors—whether they want to break the “rules” or keep them, to improve their work.
Both organic writers and outliners will benefit from Troubleshooting Your Novel. Every chapter is like having another set of eyes on your manuscript and it will help you see it in a fresh way, both identifying why something might not be working, and offering specific ways to fix the issues.
Q4: Can you share an excerpt with us?