Read Writing the Blockbuster Novel by Albert Zuckerman Online


Ken Follett and Eileen Goudge, among others, have something in common: They have mastered the craft of building the compelling novels that appear on best-seller lists around the world. And here Albert Zuckerman, agent and editorial advisor to many successful authors in every genre, discloses the somewhat hidden nuts and bolts of what makes this type of book tick, and showsKen Follett and Eileen Goudge, among others, have something in common: They have mastered the craft of building the compelling novels that appear on best-seller lists around the world. And here Albert Zuckerman, agent and editorial advisor to many successful authors in every genre, discloses the somewhat hidden nuts and bolts of what makes this type of book tick, and shows how you, too, could write a novel that might sell in the millions. Zuckerman covers every aspect of writing the blockbuster novel (or the "big novel, " as it's called in the publishing world), including defining it. You'll learn how to develop and use an outline; the value of setting your novel in an exotic or unique world; how to choose and build your characters; to control point of view and use it as a technique for developing reader empathy; how to knit together the relationships between characters; the importance of confrontational scenes, and how to sustain them; how to build scenes while setting up suspense and maintaining current action; to weave plot strands in order to build maximal climaxes; to develop and use rhythm in your plotting; and what a story point is and how to make sure each chapter includes at least one. All of this is illustrated through numerous examples of current - and timeless - popular fiction, including the works of Ken Follett, Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind," Mario Puzo's "The Godfather" and others. If you aspire to write a big novel, then this book will be invaluable to you. Read it. Learn from it. And who knows? It could be your name on the best-seller's list....

Title : Writing the Blockbuster Novel
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780898795981
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 218 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Writing the Blockbuster Novel Reviews

  • Claire Wilson
    2019-03-24 18:09

    Despite being written and released in the early 90's, I found the advice in this book quite relevant and useful. I would recommend this title to anyone with serious aspirations of becoming a novelist.

  • Leo Walsh
    2019-03-30 12:13

    Excellent book about the craft of novel-writing. Unlike other such books, which tend to get stuck in the same material (grammar, character-building, plots,etc.). Zuckerman takes the big picture. For instance, he's Ken Follet's agent, so he takes us through THREE complete outlines of the novel "The Man from St. Petersburg" to show how a well-written book comes to life. Four stars. Recommended for all fiction writers.

  • DeAnna Knippling
    2019-04-07 16:10

    Yes...mostly yes. I think I'm finally to the point where this kind of thing is starting to make more sense, and I'm not caught up in issues between "Just tell me what to write" and "How dare you tell me what to write?"This book tries to define what makes a blockbuster novel. It does lay out some shared traits like "Has multiple, entertwined POVs" and "Is mainly from a male POV but there are lots of exceptions" and "puts reader in a different, exotic locale, or makes an ordinary locale seem exotic" and "has over-the-top characters and situations, yet they're portrayed realistically." But it also has extensive examples *with analysis.* Personally, I found the combination of advice plus examples plus analysis to be very useful: I not only came out of it going, "I know what I can start doing to improve my work, that is, to make it more intense" but also going, "AHA. So that's why Twilight took off." I'm not a Twilight fan; the sentence-by-sentence writing is just not for me, and I can't get past it, like eating a dish that I find weirdly spiced. But now I know that Twilight has that plot--over the top characters (in their passions, you know?) and situations, portrayed realistically, in an ordinary setting that's made to seem exotic, with characters that have their own, entertwined stories (I don't know how many POVs there are in the book, but they all have their own stories). I get it, at least to the point where I can see why other people like it so much, now. So I recommend this book. Several things had me rolling my eyes because it was published in 1994, and a few of the examples of genres that would never take off...have. But for the most part, I thought the book was clear and insightful.

  • Ksenia Anske
    2019-03-30 15:43

    Invaluable book, simply invaluable. I recommend you read the first two chapters, then read the five novels Albert tells you to read, then finish reading the book, then reread the novels he listed, then study them according to the exercises in the book, then read the new updated edition of the book (I will buy it so I can reread it at leisure), then give gifts to book gods who have sent this book to you to help you change your writing career and produce a bestseller. Because the recipe for it is in this book, and it takes an agent with years of experience to point out things that are obvious yet rarely enter your writing mind since you're not the one who sells, you're the one who writes. Especially useful are the four outlines of Ken Follett's novel, complete with analysis. Just what I needed to help me with my outline—an example of how it's done behind the scenes. Can't recommend this book enough. Go buy it. Better yet, go buy the new edition for yourself and all your writer friends. And send me cookies. You're welcome.

  • Graeme Rodaughan
    2019-04-08 15:07

    If you want to write a novel, or you already write novels - read this book.It has the best treatment (easiest to understand and use) on handling POV in scenes that I have seen.

  • Ivy
    2019-03-31 09:48

    Writing the Blockbuster Novel really stands out among the many books that purport to help you craft your novel. While many instructors preach the importance of writing an outline, this book contains examples of actual outlines written by Ken Follitt, as well as a brutally honest analysis about the strengths and weaknesses of each draft. The book I have been working on since November has undergone a number of changes that made me believe I don't have a clue. I've especially struggled to understand the antagonist and her motives. Reading this book has made me realize that this is normal, that I'm actually on the right track, and I've been provided with a number of tools and tips to make the next draft(s) of my book something worthwhile. A must-read for the aspiring genre fiction author wannabe.

  • Dave
    2019-04-20 15:59

    I realized that I don't read the blockbuster, but this was a helpful how to. The best thing the author does is to stick with 3 main books and explain how each develops characters, plots, settings and so on. Two of the books - The Godfather and Gone with the Wind - are two of the biggest movies ever, so I didn't read these but saw the movie and could follow along. The other book is one that he edited - Ken Follet's spy novel. The author gets into the details for example how Follet developed his plot outline over time and revised his works. This book is perfect if you want to write a novel or movie that sells.

  • Benjamin Thomas
    2019-04-03 15:56

    About 20 years ago, I began to work more seriously toward a lifelong goal: to write and publish a novel. I invested in subscriptions to Writer's Digest and bought quite a few books on how to write novels, how to publish them, etc. I read many of them in those first few months, enough to get a good grasp on the ins and outs, but always realizing that this would be a continuous learning experience. Now, 20 years later, I've read the last book that I bought from those days. Writing the Blockbuster Novel by Albert Zuckerman is not for the absolute beginner but rather for those that have a fairly good grasp of how to write and how to publish.Al Zuckerman is a very successful literary agent who has worked with some of the biggest name authors extant. He uses five major works as examples in this book: The Godfather (Mario Puzo), The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough), Gone With the Wind (Margaret Mitchell), The Man from St Petersburg (Ken Follett), and Garden of Lies (Eileen Goudge). I have read three of these books and so found the material easily relevant. Much of the book is written as a sort of textbook and I do recommend reading these five books first in order to get the most out of this one, especially the Ken Follett book. Of special interest to me was seeing how The Man From St Petersburg changed from first draft to subsequent drafts. I certainly know how writing a novel can be lots and lots of downright hard work but this really brings that point home.Obviously, this book is not for every writer. If you are interested in writing short stories, or aspire to the smaller, more intimate books, children's books, etc, then this one can still be read just for expanding your knowledge and insight of publishing, marketing, or even some of the basic chores of writing like outlining or re-writing. However, if you are looking for the big commercial success, then this one is ideal. Zuckerman lays out his value criteria: "high stakes; larger-than-life characters; a strong dramatic question; a high concept; a farfetched plot premise; intense emotional involvement between several point-of-view characters; and an exotic and interesting setting." Overall, I thought the book was well done even though I no longer see myself as writing hugely commercially successful fiction. In fact, this book helped me to focus my own writing efforts; just what I had hoped for when I first opened it up.

  • Breaux
    2019-04-03 12:51

    This book delivers on the promise of its title. No, I haven't written the blockbuster yet, but I feel better equipped now that I've read Zuckerman's book. What I liked best was that it was straightforward, practical and gave an inside look at real examples from a Ken Follett best seller, The Man from st. Petersburg, with Folletts permission. These included four drafts of an outline for the book and first drafts and the final draft of two different scenes from the book. This inside look was immensely helpful as Im always struggling with how to develop a story through an evolving outline and what to do to improve scenes. This actually showed me that progression in a successful example, complete with Zuckerman's professional commentary on the evolution. Other blockbusters referenced were Gone with the Wind and the Godfather, which illustrates how to create larger than life characters such as the Godfather, Don Corleone, who men even went to for answers to prayer. Other chapters focused on the building up and pulling of of big scenes with an emphasis on focusing them on interactions between key players and on systematically building them through beats or turning points which build toward the clactic action of the scene. He also talked of the obligatory scene, being the scene between the key characters that has been promised and which the author must deliver. Most of the book is well spent, however on the 4 versions of the outline and the revisions.

  • Devin
    2019-04-12 14:43

    Review also available at: are some good points in this "craft of writing a best selling novel." And some dated points (this book is from 1994). Publishing has gone few some changes in the now-you-can-google-all-the-things world. And there were disappointments. Such as the maddening (and probably not untrue) truths about who buys best sellers. People with enough disposable income to buy hardcovers are apparently 1% of the population. And they prefer to read about rich people. They don't like the poors. Or at least not books about them. They steer away from period works. And hate coming-of-age-novels. All in all, they sound like the petty bourgeoisie to me. Making sympathetic protagonists out of rich people is how we end up with too much Batman and I can't say I want to cater to that crowd. It's enough to send my sympathies over to the self-published writers carving out their own space without the trappings o agents and publishers.Some interesting points to chew on with the process of outlining a novel and then teasing out the best dramatic pacing from it. And several good points on how to sustain momentum in a story. If you're thinking of writing with the ambition of writing a "best seller," this book might be worth a look. But if you're a fan of the pure craft of writing a story this one runs a little light on inspiration.

  • R.J. Seymour
    2019-04-15 16:00

    I think this book has a lot of hidden gems in it for authors looking to learn as much as they can for their craft. Some of it is a bit dated. Talking about $1,000,000 advances and other publishing ideas that are a bit in the past but the meat and potatoes of the book are in the craft. The author suggests you read a handful of novels before reading this one to get a full understanding and if you read it from page one to the last page, you probably should read the novels he suggests first.If you are less interested in a detailed breakdown of chapters and revisions for these novels or don't have the time to read them, the outline and summaries of each chapter are great. There is a lot to learn in just reading over these. I read it from cover to cover without reading the prerequisite books and found the breakdowns useful but at times rather easy to get lost.Definitely a go to book on learning structure. I would recommend it to all authors even if it is more of a review than a thorough read.

  • William Winkle
    2019-04-13 17:08

    While a bit dated now, Zuckerman's general advice on how to craft a "big book" remains as fresh and accurate as ever. Much of this volume is dominated by description and analysis of Ken Follett's four outline drafts of *The Man From St. Petersburg* as well as a couple of scenes from the final text. This comprises a huge chunk of the book, and I found myself equally interested and exhausted by the treatment. I get the sense that Zuckerman was taking his best guess at why Follett made certain changes rather than getting exact reasons from Follett himself, as if Follett said, "Zuckerman old chap, here's a pile of old pages from my TMFSP box. Good luck making sense of it. I'm off to write another best-seller..." I would have liked more specificity about the changes straight from the original author.Still, there's a ton of great advice throughout this book, and it should be required reading for anyone serious about studying the craft of genre fiction writing.

  • John
    2019-04-01 15:51

    This was an amazingly good lesson for me, and no wonder! It isn't blind luck that Mr. Zuckerman is so successful. It's a heaping-full treasure chest for those commercial-novel writers who are seeking ways to improve their craftsmanship and who are willing to do the assigned reading. I'm so glad I've read the assigned novels, and it's much clearer why some novels can be huge hits with the reading public. I'm also thankful that this book got me to read some novels I probably wouldn't have considered before. One of them is, Gone with the Wind, and I'm still amazed by how that book grabbed my attention and wouldn't let go for a minute. I've also become quite a fan of Ken Follet. I'll probably go on reading Eileen Goudge, too, which makes me chuckle. As I continue to read other major commercially successful novels, I understand their success much better now. I'm extremely pleased that I read this profoundly insightful examination of outstanding commercial fiction.

  • Kyra Halland
    2019-04-08 09:45

    Advice on writing big blockbuster novels from Albert Zuckerman, editor and agent to Ken Follett and other big bestselling authors. It contains useful advice on developing and plotting big novels (which can also be applied to less-massive novels as well), scene structure, and character development, with case studies from The Godfather, Gone With the Wind, The Man From St. Petersburg by Ken Follett, and other bestselling novels. The coolest part is probably the excerpts from the outlines and early drafts of Follett's book, where Zuckerman walks us through the development and changes made in the book.The parts on getting an agent and a publishing contract are obsolete now (good riddance to the old way of doing things!), and Zuckerman's opinions on what books were and weren't likely to sell at the time this book was written can also be safely ignored. Otherwise, there's some good advice in here and it's worth the read.

  • Eric Bishop
    2019-04-23 17:55

    Invaluable insights.True to his word Mr. Zuckerman dissects the intricacies, headaches, challenges and common threads as only a legendary agent can. Ken Follett's generous allowance of his outlines for his own blockbuster novel, The Man From St. Petersburg, is to the aspiring novelist what pyramid blueprints would be to the Egyptologist. To use Mr Zuckerman's own metaphor, The blockbuster novel is presented as an elaborate mansion. Readers are invited to come in, to enjoy the splendor but hidden from their eyes are much of the nuts, bolts, trusses, beams and structural reinforcement. All writers, from wide-eyed beginners to successful veterans will better understand the tools to play their craft from reading, re-reading

  • Jacqui
    2019-04-14 14:44

    This book explains how to grow your writing from that of a good writer--who follows the rules of character development, crises, story arc, etc--to one who integrates them flawlessly into a novel. Chapters include What is the Big Book, the Outline Process, Larger-than-Life Characters, Big Scenes, Rhythm in Plotting--elements that every writer knows but just those few blockbuster writers implement successfully. A good find for those with a book inside of them that needs a big audience.Be aware: He cautions the beginning writer to start somewhere else in his writing education. He's right.

  • Misty Provencher
    2019-03-30 11:11

    I wasn't sure when I ordered this book that it wasn't just a great ploy by the Writer's House master to shill his own book. I was very humbled in that opinion after reading the book. There's a reason why Zuckerman is successful and he details the how-to's of blockbuster novels beautifully. There is a lot of great information here and even the tedious picking apart of outlines, I found vastly useful and enjoyable. I apologize, Mr. Zuckerman~ you're definitely worth the read!

  • James Cardona
    2019-04-07 18:03

    This book was written long before ebooks so many of the assumptions the author makes have changed, however it has a tremendous amount of solid advice. I've read it once and am going back to read it a second time. I have already tweaked some of my own writing because of it. Even if you write genre fiction, I think some of the lessons in the book will help.

  • Donna
    2019-04-17 11:07

    The book may have been published in '94, but the advice never gets old. The chapters on outlining, character development, setting, POV, and more use well-known novels to illustrate the main points. Even more valuable is the expert before-and-after analysis of Ken Follett's work, as literary agent Zuckerman compares early drafts of outlines and scenes to his client's finished novel.

  • Colin
    2019-04-11 13:50

    For what it is, quite a good analysis of the mechanics and process of writing a blockbuster novel, with special reference to exemplars like Ken Follett. A lot of time and space spent on analysis of various revisions and drafts, which can be very useful, but may exhaust the reader's patience quite easily. Still, I'm glad I read it.

  • Francisca Todi
    2019-04-10 14:43

    Teknik-teknik yang dibagikan bagus, apalagi yang dijadikan contoh adalah buku-buku yang memang telah menjadi bestseller. Penuh contoh-contoh praktis, bahkan kadang terlalu berkepanjangan. Lumayanlah untuk menambah ilmu.

  • Kristen
    2019-03-24 14:53

    This is an excellent book to have for tips on how to write a blockbuster book and get it published. A must have for writers like me.

  • A. Shumate
    2019-03-26 17:03

    Words of wisdom on story structure from one of New York's leading agents.

  • Natalie
    2019-04-16 17:07

    Pretty good. The analysis parts were a little long, and I think I would've benefited from straight advise, but I understand why he did it.

  • Steven Atwood
    2019-04-01 17:04

    Great infoThe techniques, strategies, and procedures for the writing process was very well illustrated and easy to follow. I thoroughly enjoyed Albert's thoughtful suggestions .

  • Amber
    2019-04-14 15:07

    A bit out dated by now, and a bit dry at times. Some of the examples were quite helpful, others felt a bit long and tedious. Still, I have gleaned some useful info from this book.

  • Nerea Nieto
    2019-03-29 10:01

    I expected way more than this. It was interesting at first, but then it got repetitive all over and over again.

  • Phyllis Haislip
    2019-04-14 13:49

    I liked both this book and HIT LIT by James W. Hall. It is useful for writer to analysis best-selling books. And both of these books do that.

  • Victoria Evangelina Belyavskaya
    2019-04-11 16:01

    A treasure for writers, willing to put a lot of hard work in their manuscript, in order to make it as commercially good as possible.

  • Аня Гай
    2019-04-12 14:06

    Thats good reading^^^