They say writing is rewriting. So why does the second part get such short shrift? Novelist Matt Bell’s Refuse to Be Done passionately and practically guides writers through every step of the novel writing process, from getting started on those first pages to the last tips for making your final draft even tighter and stronger. Benjamin Dreyer—vice president, executive managing editor and copy chief, of Random House and writer of Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style—joined Bell for a conversation on moving through the revision process with fresh eyes and clear strategy.
Photos by Kelsie Lynn Bennett
Refuse to Be Done: How to Write and Rewrite a Novel in Three Drafts
By Matt Bell
Published by Soho Press
They say writing is rewriting. So why does the second part get such short shrift? Refuse To Be Done will guide you through every step of the novel writing process, from getting started on those first pages to the last tips for making your final draft even tighter and stronger.
From lauded writer and teacher Matt Bell, Refuse to Be Done is encouraging and intensely practical, focusing always on specific rewriting tasks, techniques, and activities for every stage of the process. You won’t find bromides here about the “the writing Muse.” Instead, Bell breaks down the writing process in three sections. In the first, Bell shares a bounty of tactics, all meant to push you through the initial conception and get words on the page. The second focuses on reworking the narrative through outlining, modeling, and rewriting. The third and final section offers a layered approach to polishing through a checklist of operations, breaking the daunting project of final revisions into many small, achievable tasks.
Whether you are a first time novelist or a veteran writer, you will find an abundance of strategies here to help motivate you and shake up your revision process, allowing you to approach your work, day after day and month after month, with fresh eyes and sharp new tools.
Matt Bell is the author most recently of the novels Appleseed, Scrapper (a Michigan Notable Book), and In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods (a finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award and an Indies Choice Adult Debut Book of the Year Honor Recipient, as well as the winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award). His stories have appeared in Best American Mystery Stories, Tin House, Conjunctions, Fairy Tale Review, Gulf Coast, and many other publications. A native of Michigan, he now teaches creative writing at Arizona State University.
Photo Credit: Jessica Bell
Benjamin Dreyer is vice president, executive managing editor and copy chief, of Random House. Benjamin began his publishing career as a freelance proofreader and copy editor. In 1993, he became a production editor at Random House, overseeing books by writers including Michael Chabon, Edmund Morris, Suzan-Lori Parks, Michael Pollan, Peter Straub, and Calvin Trillin. He has copyedited books by authors including E. L. Doctorow, David Ebershoff, Frank Rich, and Elizabeth Strout, as well as Let Me Tell You, a volume of previously uncollected work by Shirley Jackson. A graduate of Northwestern University, he lives in New York City.
Photo Credit: Gabriel Dreyer