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Mastering the Process: From Idea to Novel

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As the author of twenty-four novels, Elizabeth George is one of the most successful--and prolific--novelists today. In Mastering the Process, George offers readers a master class in the art and science of crafting a novel For many writers, the biggest challenge is figuring out how to take that earliest glimmer of inspiration and shape it into a full-length novel. How do you As the author of twenty-four novels, Elizabeth George is one of the most successful--and prolific--novelists today. In Mastering the Process, George offers readers a master class in the art and science of crafting a novel For many writers, the biggest challenge is figuring out how to take that earliest glimmer of inspiration and shape it into a full-length novel. How do you even begin to transform a single idea to a complete book? In these pages, award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth George takes us behind the scenes and into each step of her writing process, revealing exactly what it takes to craft a novel. Drawing from her personal photos, early notes, character analyses, and rough drafts, George shows us every step of how she wrote her novel Careless in Red, from researching location to imagining plot to creating characters to the actual writing and revision process itself. George offers us an intimate look at the process she follows, while also providing invaluable advice for writers about what's worked for her--and what hasn't. Mastering the Process offers writers practical, prescriptive, and achievable tools to creating a novel, to editing a novel, and to problem solve when in the midst of a novel, from a master storyteller writing at the top of her game.


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As the author of twenty-four novels, Elizabeth George is one of the most successful--and prolific--novelists today. In Mastering the Process, George offers readers a master class in the art and science of crafting a novel For many writers, the biggest challenge is figuring out how to take that earliest glimmer of inspiration and shape it into a full-length novel. How do you As the author of twenty-four novels, Elizabeth George is one of the most successful--and prolific--novelists today. In Mastering the Process, George offers readers a master class in the art and science of crafting a novel For many writers, the biggest challenge is figuring out how to take that earliest glimmer of inspiration and shape it into a full-length novel. How do you even begin to transform a single idea to a complete book? In these pages, award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth George takes us behind the scenes and into each step of her writing process, revealing exactly what it takes to craft a novel. Drawing from her personal photos, early notes, character analyses, and rough drafts, George shows us every step of how she wrote her novel Careless in Red, from researching location to imagining plot to creating characters to the actual writing and revision process itself. George offers us an intimate look at the process she follows, while also providing invaluable advice for writers about what's worked for her--and what hasn't. Mastering the Process offers writers practical, prescriptive, and achievable tools to creating a novel, to editing a novel, and to problem solve when in the midst of a novel, from a master storyteller writing at the top of her game.

30 review for Mastering the Process: From Idea to Novel

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth George

    Ignore the stars. I put them in because I wanted to let everyone know about my book "Mastering the Process", which will be available on April 7. This is a book about writing, specifically about the process of putting together a novel. It's the process I have developed over the years since my first novel in 1988. Taking just one of my novels--"Careless in Red" published by HarperCollins--I deconstruct it in such a way as to show you how I put it all together, from the moment I began my research f Ignore the stars. I put them in because I wanted to let everyone know about my book "Mastering the Process", which will be available on April 7. This is a book about writing, specifically about the process of putting together a novel. It's the process I have developed over the years since my first novel in 1988. Taking just one of my novels--"Careless in Red" published by HarperCollins--I deconstruct it in such a way as to show you how I put it all together, from the moment I began my research for the book (which is set in Cornwall on the west coast) to the moment it was set to be published. Throughout, I give you direct examples of my process, including photographs I took on location and sections from the novel itself that show you how those novels were used when I got to the writing. You will also find character analyses, along with scenes of those characters in action in the book. You'll see examples of the use of the various Cornish settings I found, as well as the use of interviews I conducted. You'll see how research gets buried into an ongoing narrative instead of having neon lights illuminating it for the reader. I explain what I mean when I say that I outline, and I show you not only what the outline looks like but also how things change along the way. If you're a reader who enjoys my novels, you'll probably find this an interesting look at how I work. If you're a neophyte writer who's feeling a bit lost, you'll have some options to explore. If you're a writing instructor, you'll find information and exercises to share with your students. Enjoy.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    An unusual and wonderful read that should appeal to anyone who loves books. I admit to being a huge George fan. I also have no intention of ever writing a novel so I read this more for insight into George than I did to learn how to do so. George is a master of the complex mystery and of characters who will resonate with you. She's also managed to worldbuild over the years so that readers, like me, look forward to what comes next (especially since there's always a cliff hanger of sorts). She's a An unusual and wonderful read that should appeal to anyone who loves books. I admit to being a huge George fan. I also have no intention of ever writing a novel so I read this more for insight into George than I did to learn how to do so. George is a master of the complex mystery and of characters who will resonate with you. She's also managed to worldbuild over the years so that readers, like me, look forward to what comes next (especially since there's always a cliff hanger of sorts). She's a terrific storyteller and that's what comes through in this as well. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC. A real treat while you wait for the next Inspector Lynley.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    This book is an insightful look into the process of writing a novel. The examples that show the process from planning to execution are very wonderful, and the steps provided would be helpful for anyone interested in writing. Whether it's someone who is thinking about starting a novel and not knowing where to start, a writer who is knee deep in it already and feeling stuck, or even just someone wanting to build on their current process, there is something in the book for everyone. Thank you to Vi This book is an insightful look into the process of writing a novel. The examples that show the process from planning to execution are very wonderful, and the steps provided would be helpful for anyone interested in writing. Whether it's someone who is thinking about starting a novel and not knowing where to start, a writer who is knee deep in it already and feeling stuck, or even just someone wanting to build on their current process, there is something in the book for everyone. Thank you to Viking Books for the advanced copy!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Diane Hernandez

    In Mastering the Process: From Idea to Novel, the author of the Inspector Lynsey series reveals the process she uses to write her crime novels. How will her process help budding writers? “By developing and utilizing a process, we eradicate our fears of the blank page and eliminate the chaos of the thoughts that are produced by our mental committee.” The author notes that while this process may not be optimal for everyone, it works for her. In fact, she has reduced her editorial notes from nine pag In Mastering the Process: From Idea to Novel, the author of the Inspector Lynsey series reveals the process she uses to write her crime novels. How will her process help budding writers? “By developing and utilizing a process, we eradicate our fears of the blank page and eliminate the chaos of the thoughts that are produced by our mental committee.” The author notes that while this process may not be optimal for everyone, it works for her. In fact, she has reduced her editorial notes from nine pages to zero on at least one past novel. So what are some of the author’s suggestions? Start with researching the setting extensively. Create the characters next by becoming their “psychologist, historian, medical doctor, guardian angel, omnipresent observer, parent, sibling, confidant, best friend, worst enemy, etc.” Essentially, be their god “creating them from nothing.” Unstated is the selection, or rejection, of a particular genre before beginning your research. The book digs deeply into the details of the author’s process for writing Careless in Red. She includes how particular photographs led to specific scenes, which are included in the text. In a later chapter, she explains the purpose of a dialogue scene from her book. Another chapter explains her THAD, or Talking Heads Avoidance Device. Another addresses point-of-view. And so on through the entire writing process of plotting, scene writing, and revising. In addition, each chapter contains two optional exercises for the reader to use to hone each new skill. I appreciate the usefulness of having a written recipe to move from idea to finished book. This book would be especially helpful for beginning writers. Even pantsers can learn a thing or two about using research to eliminate a long editorial process after their book is finished. However, as solely a reader myself, Mastering the Process: From Idea to Novel is a peek behind the curtain at how a familiar, and best-selling, author’s decisions impact what I read on the printed page. I read Careless in Red when it came out twelve years ago. I have a new appreciation of how much work it took to write it. Or, really, how much work is unseen when reading any book. 4 stars! Thanks to Viking Books and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Flynn

    This is neither the least helpful or the most helpful book of writing advice that I have ever come across. It's at many points sensible and practical, particularly about scene construction and the importance of dramatic questions. Definitely it helped to have just read Careless in Red, because reading long segments of that book (incorporated into this one) would have been senseless and tedious otherwise. But perhaps part of the problem I had with the writing advice presented here was my own luke This is neither the least helpful or the most helpful book of writing advice that I have ever come across. It's at many points sensible and practical, particularly about scene construction and the importance of dramatic questions. Definitely it helped to have just read Careless in Red, because reading long segments of that book (incorporated into this one) would have been senseless and tedious otherwise. But perhaps part of the problem I had with the writing advice presented here was my own lukewarm feeling about Careless in Red.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Anamaria

    I hadn't read any Elizabeth George before reading this, but I still found it a fascinating look at one writer's process and came away with lots of ideas of how to approach my own work. Reading Well-Schooled in Murder now.

  7. 4 out of 5

    David

    Makes me realize I am not and never will be a novelist, but informative as to what the process is like. It’s still all about producing something that a publisher thinks the buying public will want to read. One surprise is that George finds an interesting place first, and the rest of the novel sort of “evolves” out of her locale research...

  8. 4 out of 5

    June

    This is a helpful guide to expanding your thinking and viewing your project from different angles. The author provides many substantial examples to illustrate her concepts. Would make a nice gift for an aspiring writer!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Using passages from her mystery novel Careless in Red (spoilers for that novel if you haven't read it) George sets forth her writing process. How she approaches research, character development, plot ideas, outlining, THAD (Talking Head Avoidance Device), writing, and editing. I found her description of her process and the examples helpful in understanding how she works. I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher through the Goodreads First Reads giveaways.

  10. 4 out of 5

    KathyNV

    This is a fascinating book on one writer's process. Elizabeth George takes her novel “Careless in Red” and details how she put it together. She takes you step by step...from plot conception to character development, landscape, scene building, research and so much more! Included are pictures, notes and personal anecdotes that bring her technique to life. “Mastering the Process” is a great read for both writers and readers alike. I have read lots of books on writing but none with the attention to This is a fascinating book on one writer's process. Elizabeth George takes her novel “Careless in Red” and details how she put it together. She takes you step by step...from plot conception to character development, landscape, scene building, research and so much more! Included are pictures, notes and personal anecdotes that bring her technique to life. “Mastering the Process” is a great read for both writers and readers alike. I have read lots of books on writing but none with the attention to detail this book provides! I highly recommend it! Thank you to Viking Books and Goodreads!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Renee Bradshaw

    Packed full of useful information, I truly wish this book had been around years ago when I started writing seriously. As I work to get back into writing years after a fork in the road, I found much of this to be a helpful refresher. There are two chapters I particularly liked- The Thad and Step Outline. These were described for the first time I’ve noticed in a writing book, and I will be turning back to these chapters at a later date to go over all those highlights again.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cari

    I will be reviewing this one for Booklist!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Younkin

    Aspiring fiction writers will welcome this step-by-step guide to writing a novel, from having the idea, developing characters to structuring scenes and following a running outline. Elizabeth George, an acclaimed crime fiction author is known for her Lynley novels which involve complex plots, characters, and carefully drawn settings. As a fan, I’ve often wondered how she manages to keep track of numerous characters, plot and subplots and bring the work to a satisfying finish. She makes it clear; Aspiring fiction writers will welcome this step-by-step guide to writing a novel, from having the idea, developing characters to structuring scenes and following a running outline. Elizabeth George, an acclaimed crime fiction author is known for her Lynley novels which involve complex plots, characters, and carefully drawn settings. As a fan, I’ve often wondered how she manages to keep track of numerous characters, plot and subplots and bring the work to a satisfying finish. She makes it clear; she doesn’t just face a blank page and the right words magically appear from her fingertips. It involves hard work, discipline, and most importantly, a structure which she has found works for her. The structure is what she covers in this book. It has been developed through trial and error and she admits it may not work for every writer. It does however allow someone who has never gone through the process to understand the amount of planning one needs to do before the first sentence is written. Her process satisfies the left-sided part of her brain that craves organization and frees the right side to create. To show the reader exactly how she accomplishes each step she analyzes a previous Lynley novel and takes it down to the nuts and bolts for readers to see what she did. Her scenes are vivid because of extensive advance research where she takes pictures of the proposed setting, often a town, including the particular buildings, landscapes and physical features that stand out to her and where she might like to have scenes. (Some of the pictures she took for the Lynley book are included. Many of them suggested story ideas to her.) She does thorough character analyses revealing interests, motivations, backgrounds, and pathologies. Her characters are given their own speech mannerisms, common expressions, and behaviors. Before George has even thought about starting the rough draft, she has done preliminary work researching the setting, populating the setting with well-thought out characters, developed the plot kernel, envisioned the scenes she needs with each character, and arranged the scenes in a tentative order. After the individual chapters describing each step, she provides a couple of exercises which will aid readers in applying the concepts in that chapter to their own writing projects. In this way, the book serves as a writing workshop. I think the book is extremely helpful in demystifying the process of creating a novel and illustrating the organization that a successful writer uses. I recommend the book wholeheartedly to anyone interested in crafting a novel.

  14. 4 out of 5

    LS

    Whenever I finish one of Elizabeth George's Lynley novels, I always feel as though I've just like I've had a very full, satisfying meal. Her books are more than just mysteries; they are also profound character studies. Her language is sumptuous, her plots are intricate, and her themes are complex. When I learned she had written another book on writing, I instantly put it on my to-read list. You can imagine how pleased I was to win an ARC through a Goodreads giveaway. As someone who dabbles in cre Whenever I finish one of Elizabeth George's Lynley novels, I always feel as though I've just like I've had a very full, satisfying meal. Her books are more than just mysteries; they are also profound character studies. Her language is sumptuous, her plots are intricate, and her themes are complex. When I learned she had written another book on writing, I instantly put it on my to-read list. You can imagine how pleased I was to win an ARC through a Goodreads giveaway. As someone who dabbles in creative writing, I'm interested in learning about other writers' processes, especially when it's a writer I admire. Throughout this guide, George uses one of her recent novels as an example of how she approaches each part of her unique process, from her research to her character analyses, to her step outline and running plot outline, all the way to the rough draft and revisions. I have been working on a book of my own recently, and after many failed attempts, I finally started working on a plot outline that is very similar to what George described in her book. So far it seems to be working. It certainly seems to have worked well for Elizabeth George, who has written over 20 spectacular novels. She's one of the best in the genre. This is a thoughtful book than anyone interested in the writing process will enjoy.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Claudia Bluhm

    The amazing things about Elizabeth George are her compassion, brilliance and hard work. I took a writing workshop from her at Book Passage many years ago. I had a panic attack in my hotel room on the day we were supposed to read our writing pieces aloud. She literally talked me into coming to class. She is an amazing teacher. Even though I am not a mystery writer, much more the confessional memoirist, I learned so much about craft from her. She was supportive of my work and remains a role model The amazing things about Elizabeth George are her compassion, brilliance and hard work. I took a writing workshop from her at Book Passage many years ago. I had a panic attack in my hotel room on the day we were supposed to read our writing pieces aloud. She literally talked me into coming to class. She is an amazing teacher. Even though I am not a mystery writer, much more the confessional memoirist, I learned so much about craft from her. She was supportive of my work and remains a role model to this day. As a writer of mysteries, Elizabeth George is recognized as having found a home with the greats. I see her as a brilliant writer whose passion just happens to be mysteries. My guess is that anything she chose to write would have been meticulous, brilliant, and compassionate. Compassion is key - as exemplified by her main characters - Lynley and Havers - who grow and change with each novel. One follows them as they learn from mistakes and life experiences, much as we follow the arc of all of our favorite characters in literature.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Annarella

    I'm a fan of Elizabeth George and I got this ARC because I wanted to read about the process of creating a novel. She's a talented storyteller and this is a very interesting and engrossing read. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for this ARC, all opinions are mine.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Didn't make it very far through this one. The beginning tips were so filled with passages from her own book, I felt like she was giving me a manual for writing her book, not mine. Maybe it gets better if you can soldier through that portion.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carol Cronin

    A deep dive into the process of writing a novel, by one of my favorite authors.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Steven Ridgely

    Great information.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brian Durfee

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amy

  23. 5 out of 5

    Judy Muncie

  24. 5 out of 5

    Светлана Гусева

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alexandrea Jarvis

  26. 4 out of 5

    Afifa Jahan

  27. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Grothaus

  28. 5 out of 5

    Terry Murray

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stefania

  30. 4 out of 5

    Thea

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