Book Review: This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley

Mosley, Walter. This Year You Write Your Novel. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 2007.

Summary: An unpretentious book for the beginning writer

I rediscovered this book behind some others when I cleaned a shelf – not surprising that it slipped away since it’s just 111 pages, including index.  It’s a collection of elements related to writing a novel – not publishing, not marketing – and recommendations of how to complete a final draft in 12 months.

I figured it would be a bit like Elmore Leonard’s rules.* However, Mosley states outright that the book is to show a beginner how to write a novel in a year, not set rules for experienced writers. He walks through his own novel-writing process, explaining how and why certain approaches work. For example, he explained in just a few paragraphs why I find writing in the first-person difficult, even though I’m drawn to it.*

Mosley’s walk-through of process of revising, editing, and rewriting after the first draft was enlightening. I’d heard writers talk about reading their work aloud, but not the whole darn thing. He promotes it as an essential step and assigns it six days to complete.

Book Project Conclusion: 

Gift to the Library

A slightly different version of this review is cross-posted at

*The link to Leonard’s original piece in The New York Times will save you money on the book-bound version of his rules. You’re welcome.

*Here’s the money quote on first-person:

It is powerful because you are intimate with the emotions and internal processes of the very real human being telling you the story; it is difficult because the rendering of the character has to be pitch-perfect for the reader to believe in her.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley

  1. Excellent review! There are so many writing books out there. Will you review a lot of them?

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