Dominion Post of Morgantown, West Virginia August 23, 2010

By Norman Julian

Excerpted from
"About getting that novel started-- and finished"

So you are a college student who spent your summer vacation trying to write a novel, Bunky, but you did't know where or how to start. Or you are a college professor expert in your field and you have in mind a mystery novel involving goings on in your department. But you lack the skills. Or you are a stay-at-home housewife who has read literally thousands of romance novels and you'd love to write one yourself. If only you could get some help doing it. Any of you above or the literally hundreds of thousands of other Americans who are writing a novel or are hoping to can get help from a new 200-page handbook from Shinnston native Meredith Sue Willis.
"Ten Strategies to Write Your Novel" is a state of the art text on how to approach writing that novel and how to stay with it until you get it done.... Much of [Willis's] own writing is either set in West Virginia or informed by the people and lifestyles she and we know. She is an Appalachian writer who loves her roots and has special insights into them.
She can help you Taste It, Touch It, Smell It - Start with Sense Details, which, not surprisingly, accounts for one of the 10 strategies. She can help you Explore Character from the Inside Out, another strategy novelists need. Something that always gives me trouble is dialogue. She tells you how to master it. You'll learn to Use Film Techniques; Master Logistics and Scene; and Revise Your World. I used capitals above to denote things listed in her table of contents....
Whether your novel reaches the mass market or is read only by a few friends and family, she contends, "You are engaged in one of the great human endeavors, a journey into a rich terrain of experience and imagination."
Most writers take, a lot, from where they were born and raised. Meredith is one who since the time she left West Virginia to attend a women's college "over East" has endeavored to give back in extra measure. In this book she does.
(Norman Julian is a columnist at large for The Dominion Post. You can reach him at