A Spectator Best Book of the Year
'There are three rules for writing a novel,' Somerset Maugham once said. 'Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.'
So how to bring characters to life, find a voice, kill your darlings, avoid plagiarism (or choose not to), or run that most challenging of literary gauntlets-writing a good sex scene?
Veteran editor and author Richard Cohen takes us on a fascinating excursion into the lives and minds of our greatest writers-from Balzac and Eliot to Woolf and Nabokov, through to Zadie Smith and Stephen King, with a few mischievous detours to Tolstoy along the way. In a glittering tour d'horizon, he lays bare their tricks, motivations, techniques, obsessions and flaws.