Review of Write Away: One Novelist’s Approach to Fiction and the Writing Life, by Elizabeth George  

    I got this book from the DC Public Library years ago, when I began working on my first terrible practice novel, I think, in 2012 [nope, it was June of 2013, and here is the first page of my notes, recorded as Pg. 2  WrAwNotesPg2  because I then backed up and took complimentary notes from another book on the opposite page).  This known literary fiction novelist, and extreme outliner, gives much advice on planning and editing a novel.

    Again working through her character-building worksheet while re-reading my notes on how to plot the book, write scenes, and set the theme via the Main Character’s Core Need and pathological maneuver.  She also explains point of view, the strengths of various view points, how to raise tension and approach dialogue, and how to construct a scene.  And she hates ‘head-hopping’ a lot.  I love her “THAD” as talking head avoidance device idea.  On page 166 she she gives three pieces of advice about plot and theme (and unity):

  1. each scene must advance either the (sub)plot or the theme, or develop a character, all moving forward,
  2. unify each paragraph around a central idea based on the theme while that paragraph also advances the scene,
  3. each sentence and paragraph must address the topic of that paragraph, from the theme, which must drive all (sub)plots.

     She also explains how plot is causal, and gives some story idea selection advice.   Then she goes on to discuss character development.  Excellent advice, if not so easy to follow (especially during NaNoWriMo!!).  I am updating this post now, in ’23, with only some of the very large set of notes I took from this book, because I just found them in my old Research Notebook.  I’ll only sum up the essentials, because there are so many notes.  This book is very detailed, and worth going back to read again.  I’m so glad that the DCPL is so well equipped, and I hope that soon, and very soon, all libraries around the country will be connected, as Project Do Better calls for in Phase I: #ProjectDoBetter.



Click here to read, if you would like to see more about:

B5, Hakan: Muhafiz/The Protector, Sihirli AnnemLupin, or La Casa de Papel/Money Heist Reviews

Holistic College Algebra & GED/High School Lesson Plans,

     Thoughtful Readers, this book review, and my novel writing, is my personal way (after Project Do Better, obviously) of contributing to “the work” Toni Morrison spoke of that could help build empathy and compassion in our world.  Story, as part of how we see our world, helps us make sense of and define our actions in this world.  And remember how important story is also as part of this project.


Let’s Do Better.

Shira Destinie A. Jones, MPhil, MAT, BSCS


Shira Destinie Jones’ work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


6 thoughts on “Review of Write Away: One Novelist’s Approach to Fiction and the Writing Life, by Elizabeth George  

    1. She writes in this book on writing that she spent the entire school year, for the first ten or so of her novels if I recall correctly, planning out the novels, and then drafting and editing them during the summer months!
      I don’t think that that approach works for me, though.

      Liked by 1 person

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