Today is the first day of November, which means holiday craziness is just around the corner. So, hey, why not write a novel?
I’m not sure whose idea it was to make November National Novel Writing Month, but it is. Also known as NaNoWriMo, this is the month when thousands of writers across the globe challenge themselves to create 50,000 original words—either the first draft of a novel or the start of a novel that will be finished later.
I have to say, the idea of completing an entire book in a month (or even a draft, which is the goal) sounds daunting to me. I take longer to write, probably because I’m prone to distractions.
But that is the whole purpose of NaNoWriMo… eliminate distractions and WRITE YOUR BOOK.
I want to give a shout out to all the writers out there who are undertaking new novels this month. And I’d like to share some of my favorite sources of inspiration. After writing fiction for the past ten years, I have a ton of how-to books in my collection, but here are just a few of my favorites:
On Writing by Stephen King
I love this book. I give it to aspiring writers all the time. King talks about the craft of writing and also discusses his personal journey as a writer. He has so many pearls of wisdom to offer, including one of my favorites: “Let each character speak freely.”
GMC: Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon
Dixon talks about these three key ingredients in successful fiction. If you want to write commercial fiction, I highly recommend this book, which focuses on the need for conflict in any work of fiction. It’s a helpful framework for writers.
Don’t Murder Your Mystery by Chris Roerden
Do you want to write suspense? If so, this book is a must read. Chris Roerden has a witty writing style and offers tips that can be useful in any genre, but particularly apply to writing mysteries. I especially love her chapters about “Hobbled Hooks” and “Bloody Backstory.”
The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass
As a longtime literary agent, Maass has a keen eye for what makes or breaks a new submission. He offers a wealth of insights to authors trying to break into commercial fiction. Some of my favorite Donald Maass advice—writers should put tension on every page of the story and “find the emotional friction between the speakers.”
To all the NaNoWriMo writers out there, good luck! I wish you the very best.
Anyone who comments today will be entered to win a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing. And congratulations to Erin Alford, who won a signed copy of EXPOSED after commenting on my October 18 post. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send your prize.