If you’re beginning to think you may need some help to whip your work in progress into shape, these books for NaNoWriMo have you covered.
NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. This means that I’ll receive a small commission if you happen to purchase one of the books I mention — at no extra cost to you.
Bashing out words is one thing, but structuring your story is quite another. And while the purpose of NaNoWriMo is to just write your words without thinking about next steps, we’re halfway through November. And that means that NaNoWriMo is almost over, and you’re well on your way to being at a point where you have to actually do something with those words you pulled out of your skull cavity.
If you’re in the market for some quick and dirty writing education, I’ve got a list of books that will help. And sure, you can probably find all the information contained in these tomes online, but isn’t it nice to have good information all in one place, and vetted by capable editors?
(Small disclaimer: I think writing books are double-edged swords. I’ve spent a lot of time just buying them, thinking I needed them to make me a writer. But I realized I was just metaphorically asking for permission, or knocking on a door that wasn’t really a door to begin with. So, keep that in mind with this post. Do you need them to write? Absolutely not. Does it hurt to read about the craft of writing? Never.)
Anyway, here are my recommendations for books for NaNoWriMo!Books for #NaNoWriMo Click To Tweet
Craft Books for NaNoWriMo (to structure your writing)
Scene and Structure by Jack Bickham
Do you feel like your novel is at a level 10 all the time? Like it’s just go go go go and never a moment for your characters to process what’s going on? Then this is the book for you. The main premise is that the action occurs in the scenes, and then characters digest the action in what Bickham calls the sequel. And balancing out these things is the key to balancing out the actions and emotions in your story.
The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Creative Writing by Alice LaPlante
Do you wish you’d gotten one of them there advanced degrees in creative writing? That’s what this book feels like to me. Is there anything sexier than a Norton English book? It’s got academic establishment written all over it, and it’s way cheaper than any MFA program. (Unfortunately, there’s no workshop included.)
Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
We all know that characters need to grow throughout the course of a story. They have to change, go through some stuff, and maybe even get a haircut. But like, how do you go about making all this happen to your characters? This is a great book for creating characters and their motives.
The Nighttime Novelist by Joseph Bates
For me, the hardest thing about being a writer is balancing my energy with my day job and writing. And this book is great for pacing your work between the day job and creating the Next Great American Novel. And a really cool thing about this book is that it comes with assignments that you can work through to sharpen up your writing skills.
Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell
I am the queen of creating stories that just sag in the middle, no matter how hard I try. I start strong, and end with a bang. That middle, though? Saggy. That’s why this book is great. Not only does it help you structure plot for different styles and genres of stories, but it also has a lot of plotting diagrams, which are great for visual people.
Woo Woo Books for NaNoWriMo (to keep your head in the game)
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
In the middle of NaNoWriMo, it’s hard to miss the idea of Bird by Bird. I mean, you’re bashing out words every day, slowly but surely making your way to the end goal. And that’s one thing you really need when you’re working on a big writing project, because otherwise it’s so overwhelming. But, in case you forget when this month is over, pick up this book to keep you on the path of taking it day by day.
Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg
This book singlehandedly kickstarted my journaling process. I love how Goldberg details her free-writing process — fountain pens and cheap notebooks — and I’ve definitely adopted that. If you’re looking for something that will help you embrace the mundanity of writing, look no further. For building your process and creating the routine, this is your book.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Has it been long enough since this book came out for me to remind you about it? I think so. One thing I love about Elizabeth Gilbert is how she embraces the woo woo of writing. (If you haven’t seen this Ted Talk yet, then you really need to watch it.) I think this book is a great reminder to honor your ideas by consistently working on them, because if you don’t, they go.
The Art of Work by Jeff Goins
I’ve been having a lot of really big conversations lately about what I’m meant to do with my life, and this book is exactly the book you need for those sort of conversations. This book covers talks about where talent, work, and passion all intersect, and what that means for your life’s work. And if you’re into this book, you should definitely check out Jeff’s blog.
So that is a handy dandy list of all the writing books for NaNoWriMo you need to keep your motivation, and to make your story functional.
Let me know in the comments what books for NaNoWriMo you recommend!