How Did The Author Do That? by John Yeoman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
John Yeoman has created a work which is a must for all budding writers. A big improvement on Fear of Evil, his first attempt to write a novel about how to write novels, this book really works and is a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their craft or start out on the journey of writing a novel which will work and keep the reader gripped.
As does this novel itself, in fact. You can read the book as a true, bona fide novel and thoroughly enjoy the ride. The genre is historical murder mystery and the chief protagonist, Hippo Yeoman, is the author’s very own Elizabethan Hercule Poirot – so if that’s not your cup of tea then you won’t enjoy the novel so much. That said, usually it isn’t MY cup of tea either but I adore this character and love the author’s quirky, fun and original style. I have enjoyed all the Hippo Yeoman stories.
As a book on how to write novels, John Yeoman gets it right. This is book meant for the Kindle technology. The nearly 200 notes are hidden in the pages ready for you to click on them when and if you choose and be taken to the relevant note. There, the author will, briefly and with humour, explain what he did, why you will want to do the same with your own novel before you click back to where you were just reading. Effectively, he puts the traditional how-to-write-a-novel book on its head. Instead of copious pages about how to write with limited examples from real books, Yeoman gives you a real book and shows you as it progresses how and why he’s used the techniques he describes. The effect is like having the author sitting by your shoulder giving you one-to-one tuition as you read his book. The value of this is not to be under-estimated.
Of course, if you prefer, you can simply read the novel as it is and then read the notes at the end. Furthermore, the author has included a chapter dedicated to the mechanics of writing a novel after the story itself has come to an end. He gives advice for both the beginner and for those of us who are a bit more long in the tooth.
I enjoyed Fear of Evil when it came out and cautiously praised Yeoman for his bold enterprise at the time. He’s taken on board the advice and criticism he received from the first book and made huge improvements on this second one. For me, he gets it just right and this book deserves to enter the canon of books every writer should have on his bookshelf (or, in this case, his Kindle).
For historical buffs by the way, you’ll find a fascinating (and accurate) portrayal of Elizabethan London along with some very interesting theories about a certain well-known Englishman. I’ll say no more on this matter!
I received a reviewer’s copy of this book but this review is entirely my own honest opinion and I have received no payment for writing it in any way whatsoever.