Skip to main content
Publish date:

179 Ways to Save a Novel

Matters of vital concern to fiction writers.
Author:


179 Ways to Save a Novel
by Peter Selgin
Writer's Digest Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-58297-607-5
$16.99, paperback, 288 pages

writing a novel | novel writing mistakes

Buy the Book

Read an excerpt
In this excerpt from 179 Ways to Save a Novel, author Peter Selgin discusses ways to defeat the writer's sworn enemy: the cliche.

Read an interview with the author

Peter Selgin discusses writing advice, the publishing industry, agents and more in this exclusive Q&A.

About the Book

Looking for ways to fix your novel?

Let this book be your guide with 179 meditations collated and condensed from the advice of over a thousand critiques from award-winning author Peter Selgin’s experience as an editor and a teacher. You’ll discover helpful ideas for troubleshooting your novel through insights gleaned from a life of reading, writing and loving literature.

The ideas in this book are grouped under six headings: Substance; Structure; Style; Symbol, Myth & Metaphor; Soul; and Other Matters. Try dipping into the book at random when in need of nonspecific advice, inspiration, or criticism. Or read the book straight through for a deeper examination of your writing life. However you encounter them, these meditations are guaranteed to challenge, inspire, provoke—and occasionally to tickle or annoy. But, most of all, they’ll awaken a deeper awareness of the fiction writer’s many challenges and thorny choices.

About the Author
Peter Selgin is the author of the Flannery O’Connor Award-winning story collection Drowning Lessons; Life Goes to the Movies, a novel; and By Cunning & Craft: Sound Advice and Practical Wisdom for Fiction Writers.

Praise for 179 Ways to Save a Novel

“Peter Selgin’s 179 Ways to Save a Novel is brimming with sage and inspiring advice. Selgin writes about the craft of the novel with terrific lucidity, insight, and wit and his latest is a book that all aspiring novelists should have on their shelves.”

—Laura van den Berg, author of What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us

"Randall Jarrell said that a novel is a prose narrative of some length that has something wrong with it. What Peter Selgin knows—and abundantly illustrates—is that we can learn from went wrong, and learning from our mistakes and from the mistakes of others is the premise of his wise and witty meditation on writing, a book that is as practical as it is provocative. What Peter Selgin talks about when he talks about writing is what every aspiring novelist needs to hear. He offers generous insights, frank talk, and ample encouragement. 179 Ways to Save a Novel is all the inspiration and guidance you’ll need to get your novel started, and more importantly, to get it finished."

—John Dufresne, author of The Lie That Tells the Truth

3 Things Being a Broadway Wig Master Taught Me About Storytelling

3 Things Being a Broadway Wig Master Taught Me About Storytelling

A career behind the curtain helped Amy Neswald in creating her own stories. Here, the author shares 3 things being a broadway wig master taught her about storytelling.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Out of Control

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Out of Control

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let things get a little out of control.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2021 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Next Steps

Here are the final steps for the 14th annual November PAD Chapbook Challenge! Use December and the beginning of January to revise and collect your poems into a chapbook manuscript. Here are some tips and guidelines.

NaNoWriMo’s Over … Now What?

NaNoWriMo’s Over … Now What?

After an intense writing challenge, you might feel a little lost. Here are some tips from Managing Editor and fellow Wrimo Moriah Richard for capitalizing on your momentum.

Ian Douglas: On Telling the Truth in Science Fiction

Ian Douglas: On Telling the Truth in Science Fiction

New York Times bestselling author Ian Douglas discusses how he incorporated implausible conspiracy theories to uncover the truth in his new science fiction novel, Alien Hostiles.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 589

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a yesterday poem.

Revenge

Revenge

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, write about revenge.

Peter Fiennes: On Finding Hope in the Writing Process

Peter Fiennes: On Finding Hope in the Writing Process

Critically acclaimed author Peter Fiennes discusses his quest to find hope in his new travel/Greek mythology book, A Thing of Beauty.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2021 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 30

For the 2021 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's prompt is to write a The End and/or The Beginning poem.