Book Review: Matt Bell’s “Refuse to Be Done”

The word that comes to mind when reading Matt Bell’s Refuse to Be Done is “Rigorous.” His book goes into great detail about taking a novel through the drafting process — specifically three drafts. There are strategies and tips through each draft stage, and Bell does a great job of providing insights into how to take a rather large body of work, and all the complexities of story/theme/plot/character/descriptions/style/tense therein, and use revision and rewriting to get the novel completed in its finest form. What I enjoyed and respected most was that the tenor of the book wasn’t — see how easy all this is, now that I’ve revealed my techniques, but rather — prepare to work hard and be diligent, and just when you think you are done, nope, get back in there and revise and rework some more. Yes, anyone can write a novel. And sure, that means anyone can write a good or even great novel — IF they put the hard work in. This book makes that case very well, and is packed with excellent concepts, strategies and very specific pointers on how to bring that kind of rigorousness to the process of writing and revising a novel. I appreciated the thoroughness and the writer’s writer insights, and most of all, the reality check on how challenging — and rewarding — it is to take the novel writing process to true completion.

Jeffrey Yamaguchi

This review is also posted at Goodreads.