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A Guide to Writing Your Novel Review by Kathy Gelzer

Lee Roddy
Institute for Excellence in Writing
8799 N. 387 Road
Locust Grove, OK 74352

Primarily geared to writers who want to publish their work, Lee Roddy has written an extremely clear instruction book, with seventeen chapters covering the whole process, from story ideas to marketing your novel. Lee Roddy's methods have been personally proven. "Years before . . . I wrote 10 complete novels that did not sell. But after I learned what's now in this book, I rewrote and sold all 10 of those novels plus 43 more, along with several nonfiction books." He has been teaching these methods for thirty years, and many of his students have gone on to be published as well. I like the annotated "Table of Contents" page with a short paragraph about each chapter, explaining the significance of the material in each one. Not only does it give you a big picture of the writing process, but it serves to empower you with motivation to get published. Mr. Roddy defines a novel as "emotional, narrative entertainment about characters in conflict, requiring suspense elements within a structured form of beginning, middle and ending." Specifically, this book teaches you to write "paperback category or genre novels" commonly found in drugstores, grocery stores, and airports because "they offer markets for almost any genre which interests you." Subsequent chapters tell you how to write these specific genres:   suspense, romance, mysteries, and young adult novels. Most of the chapters include a checklist of questions for you, the novel writer, to answer about the writing process, and a "workshop" with a specific writing assignment pertaining to the chapter, in order to further your novel along. In addition to specific genres, Lee Roddy also addresses character development, plot, scenes and sequels, researching and interviewing, and marketing. In this book, the terms "scene" and "sequel" are used differently than what I am familiar with; a scene is a "brief dramatized conflict," and a sequel is a "reflection link that ties the last chapter read to the one coming up."

Who is this book written for and how would you use it in your homeschool? I think this would lend itself to a high school level student, either at home or in a co-op setting. It is not a traditional curriculum with lesson plans, grading suggestions, answers, quizzes and tests, scope and sequence, etc. Instead, it is a handbook that tells you how to write a novel with the hope of getting published. The author issues a challenge to complete your novel in a year, and he even invites you to email him with your pledge to do so!

A Guide to Writing Your Novel seems like a good investment if you are serious about getting published or improving your novel writing skills. Its step-by-step approach, incorporating specific instruction and promise of positive results if you "practice, produce, and persevere", will encourage you!

Product Review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2012