★★★★★: The Weekend Novelist (Paperback) by Robert J. Ray, reviewed by C. J. Singh on amazon.com, copy posted on May 3, 2007 (13 of 14 people found the review helpful.) – See all my reviews
After reading the Amazon reviews of this book, I decided to purchase both editions to find out why several reviews extol the first edition over the second.
In TWN’s first edition, Robert J Ray lucidly analyzes the fiction craft in one novel, Anne Tyler’s THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST, a great favorite of mine (“Anne Tyler is not merely good; she is wickedly good,” wrote John Updike). The preface to the second edition notes: “The first edition of this book started with character and moved on to plot and scene and writing. The second edition expands the plotting section. From a dozen or so pages in the old edition, we have enlarged this focus to give you a range of choices for building your book. The basic concept you need to build a plot is architecture” (ix).
The second edition, coauthored by Bret Norris, presents analyses of the fiction craft in five contemporary novels, including two with cyclical structural design. The five novels are:
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon;
Amsterdam: A Novel by Ian McEwan;
White Teeth: A Novel by Zadie Smith; and the two with cyclical design,
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho;
The Namesake: A Novel by Jhumpa Lahiri.
Several new techniques to “fashion an architecture for your novel” are presented in the second edition. Also new are the authors’ responses to twenty interlinked exercises that develop a first draft of a work-in-progress “Trophy Wives.” The concluding chapter, “The Weekend Novelist Writes a Screenplay,” gives suggestions on how to adapt your novel draft to a feature-length screenplay.
The first edition is no doubt simpler to follow. But as it focuses on just one linear novel, its instruction on plot is limited.
I recommend studying both editions.