Level-up Your Writer’s Craft for NaNoWriMo

Are you on the brave endeavor of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? NaNoWriMo has been occurring for over 20 years now and is the formidable challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in November. It has blossomed into a huge non-profit organization, and they offer tons of resources and community support to writers taking part in NaNoWriMo.

It can be an overwhelming challenge, but there is much to be said about the power of working on a deadline and getting support from other writers! If you’re taking part in NaNoWriMo or are just looking for new writing exercises or wisdom on the craft, check out these books below!

Architecture of the Novel by Jane Vandenburgh

I adore how this book is structured and Vandenburgh has such a beautiful way of describing a writing life. It is clear and direct in its instruction, and focuses specifically on how to tease out story, plot, and overarching story lines, making it a great place to start!

The thesis of how she structures this book follows the belief that “a novel has mystical, self-generative properties – it wants to prove itself to you if you can relax and let it” (p. 12). While this is true, Vandenburgh guides the reader in asking the questions only you can answer to write the story you need to tell.

Writing 21st Century Fiction by Donald Maass

This snappy, high-octane guide is written by the head of a massive literary agency based in New York City. If anyone is noticing publishing and narrative trends, it’s Mr. Maass. I also love the focus on how the line between “genre” fiction (mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, romance etc.) and “literary” fiction is increasingly disappearing. It’s an incredibly relevant and easy guide to maneuver to help you find the answers you need!

Tell Me What You See by Caroline Topperman

Last year for NaNoWriMo, I wrote about my favourite book about creative writing that isn’t necessarily just about creative writing – What It Is by Lynda Barry (Which I will recommend forever, to everyone), because writing from images and memories can be such an inspiring force.

We’ve all heard the adage of showing, not telling in creative writing, and I think writing from images is such a good way to do this; which is why I was thrilled to find this new release at WPL, Tell Me What You See by Caroline Topperman. It features evocative photographs and prompts, which can be so helpful at inspiring creativity or giving you a fresh perspective if you’re feeling stuck.

Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer

For my sci-fi/fantasy writers – this one is for you. Wonderbook is so fascinating, and split into essays on different aspects of writing speculative fiction, case studies of strong characters & plot, and tons of imaginative exercises. Vandermeer is the author of several critically acclaimed books such as the Southern Reach Trilogy (notably Annihilation, the first in the series, which is an astounding example of how to write strong atmospheres).

Letters to A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

I revisit these beloved letters often. They are generous, evocative, and soul warming works on writing and living. Just what the doctor ordered if you need a boost!

WPL is also hosting 2 NaNoWriMo write in sessions at the Eastside Branch on Saturday, November 19th and Tuesday, November 22nd!