Get your own novel started

By Kirstin Buick
08 August 2013

Thinking of writing a novel but not sure where to start? Our book blogger looks at two books that will have you plotting your own story in no time.

When it’s hectic at work (as was the case with me last week) I’m often too tired to read (reading is a big part of my job.) That’s when I relax by browsing around in an e-bookshop at home. Granted, a real bookshop smells of books and wood and has colourful, eye-catching covers (and usually a coffee shop nearby), but you can also spend many hours window-shopping in e-bookstores.

One of the jewels I discovered (and which is also available at as an e-book) is Al Zuckerman’s Writing the Blockbuster Novel. There are many similar guides on the market but I heard about his book when a thriller writer recently said in an interview he’d produced his best writing after reading Zuckerman’s book. Apparently it’s the be-all and end-all for everyone who dreams of becoming the next Deon Meyer.

Writing the Blockbuster Novel describes chapter by chapter how to get started, create atmosphere and larger-than-life characters and build intrigue.

The book is also extremely readable and entertaining, making it a good read for those who’re merely interested in how blockbusters are created. (Am I the only one who feels cheated when a thriller falls flat because of a weak ending? Or feels robbed of valuable reading time? Zuckerman knows how this can be avoided.) The book’s introductory chapter is written by Ken Follett (of World Without End fame) and is hilarious. This is a great read for book addicts.

I mentioned this book to a colleague who loves books as much as I do and she said Stephen King’s On Writing is another good option (also available as an eBook at The bestselling horror, fantasy, suspense, scifi writer talks about how he got published, talks about his personal life and gives guidelines on writing your own novel.

-       Gerda Engelbrecht

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