On the heels of his acclaimed novel Appleseed, published in July 2021 by Custom House and named one of Summer’s Hottest Books by USA Today, comes Matt Bell’s inspiring yet pragmatic guide to writing a novel. Drawing examples from writers such as Garth Greenwell, Rachel Kushner, Matthew Salesses, and Jeff VanderMeer, Bell approaches the writing (and rewriting) process in three sections—First Draft: Forward Progress, Generative Revision; Second Draft: Rewrite, Don’t Revise; and Third Draft: Refuse to Be Done—leading readers toward a layered approach to polishing by way of a checklist of tasks that can be applied to a manuscript one at a time. Along the way Bell avoids a one-size-fits-all approach and encourages writers to either dismiss or, better yet, subvert any of his strategies: “This book is here to serve you and your book,” he writes with characteristic pragmatism. “Only what’s useful to you applies.”
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