Writers, have you ever wished you could write to your favourite author (s) for advice? Did you act on that wish? Did they reply? If yes, then you are a fortunate being. If not, then you are in good company. Like most of us, Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa wished he could write to famous authors for advice.

He’s gone from wanting to write to famous authors to being one! Advice is the gift he blessed us with in this book. With an enviable sui generis wealth of experience as a novelist and a Nobel Prize in Literature to boot, his advice to writers in this book is priceless!

He tackles relevant literary issues such as authenticity, the power of persuasion, style, and the role of the narrator, among others. This a handy expository companion in exploring the anatomy of the novel.

I will share six lessons that spoke to me the most and allow you to unpack more wisdom from the book.

  1. “I think that only those who come to literature as they might to religion, prepared to dedicate their time, energy, and effort to their vocation, have what it takes to really become writers and transcend themselves in their works.”
  2. “There are no novel-writing prodigies. All the greatest, most revered novelists were first apprentice writers whose budding talent required early application and conviction.”
  3. “All stories are rooted in the lives of those who write them; experience is the source from which fiction flows.”
  4. Read constantly, because it is impossible to acquire a rich, full sense of language without reading plenty good literature, and try as much as you can, though this is not quite so easy, not to imitate the styles of the novelists you most admire and who first taught you to love literature.
  5. “That is why no one can teach anyone to create; at most we may be taught to read and write. The rest we must teach ourselves, stumbling falling, and picking ourselves up over and over again. And the most important lesson for me;
  6. “…Forget everything you’ve read in my letters about the structure of the novel, and just sit down and write.”


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