It’s July (sheesh, already?) and my book in a month experiment is over. Granted, I was rewriting and not working from scratch, but Victoria Schmidt’s Book in a Month workbook is supposed to be good for that too. Now that I’ve gotten to the end of it, my reviews are mixed.
It’s a good book if you already have a story idea that you’re kicking around, and maybe you’ve started writing scenes, or jotted down some ideas, or have a pretty clear idea of the characters. The book is set up to help you build the structure of the novel and get everything down on paper in a month so that you can go back and edit it later. If you already have a working manuscript, the book can help to make sure that the structure is in place and nudge you toward thinking more deeply about your characters. The book is also helpful if you are an undisciplined writer and haven’t gotten into the daily butt-in-chair habit.
I hope no one picks up this book thinking they will have a finished product at the end of 30 days. It might have a beginning, middle and an end, but it won’t be nearly good enough to be a saleable manuscript. And even on revisions, the nudges toward thinking more deeply about characters, motivation, turning points, etc. are not strong enough prompts to get you to really deepen your work. For that you will need a different kind of book, or better, a writing class.
Yes, there are bestselling novelists who write entire books in one month, and they’re saleable and go on to make millions, but more often than not these are people who have an established following, who write formula fiction, and who have enough money to concentrate their entire day on writing and so have more hours in a month to devote to a work of fiction. And don’t underestimate the value of years of practice. I doubt even they started out writing a book in a month.
If you are a beginner, have no waiting fans, no money to write full-time and have never been published, do not think this can happen to you. Real writing requires far more than you can squeeze out of the pages of this book.
But far more important than the book, is the online support group on Yahoo. If you happen to get a good, encouraging group like I did this month, you’re in good hands. People who can cheer you on, who suffer pitfalls and slow periods just like you, will help to keep you steadily on the road to completing your manuscript, so I highly recommend joining up and chatting with your fellow writers.
The process was interesting and enjoyable, but I doubt I’d do it again. After writing eight books, I don’t have any issues meeting my word count by a deadline. My issues are with digging deep and finding a better story, so I will need to move on. But if you’re a beginner, this is a good place to start.