National Novel Writing Month, held every November, is a challenge for anyone who’s ever wanted to write a novel to bash out 50,000 words (1,667 words a day). It’s not about perfect structure, beautiful phrasing, or well-filled plot holes at this stage - it’s about rolling up your sleeves, getting your ideas down, and polishing your story up once the month is over. But if you haven’t had much practice in creative writing recently, or are simply looking for inspiration or advice, we have resources and services that can get you over the finish line.
Maggie Hamand - Creative Writing for Dummies
If you’re a little late starting NaNoWriMo (maybe we’ve only just brought it to your attention and you’ve decided to have a go), this book gets straight to the point, with no-nonsense lists, tips and exercises. It helps you decide on a genre, create believable characters and dialogue, streamline your structure and plot, and more. Once the month is over, you could also use it to try your hand at non-fiction writing or to help you edit and even publish your work.
Noah Lukeman - The Plot Thickens
Have a great idea for a story, but overwhelmed by the challenge of sustaining a plot over 50,000+ words? This book breaks plot down into its smaller parts, such as characterisation, suspense and conflict, making novel-writing conquerable. Find out how to create the outer and inner life of a character, what distinguishes a good book from a great book and more.
This book is designed for both beginners and improvers, covering basics such as ‘getting started’, ‘creating fictional characters’ and ‘writing realistic dialogue’ and more advanced skills with chapters titled ‘showing not telling’, ‘finding true love’, and ‘haunting, thrilling and killing’. You can also learn how to write non-fiction, write for children and send your work to a publisher. Useful websites for writing and publishing are included as well.
This entertaining book is perfect for NaNoWriMo as it not only helps you improve your work, but also to save time and increase productivity - only 27 days left now (unless you’re not reading this blog post on the day of publication, in which case you have even less time)! Quirky lessons include ‘cook up a story’, advising you to amplify conflicts, changes and events within your story, ‘go for broke’, advising you not to ‘save your best work’ for later use but use it now while it’s fresh, and ‘grumble and fuss’ because’ only the bad writers are ever truly satisfied.’ We’re not sure the Suffolk ‘wrimos’ will want to follow Robert’s advice to ‘skip the Starbucks’ though, given that they’re holding write-ins at one!
Although this book can be used to provide daily exercises over the course of a year, we only let you renew books six times, and there’s no reason you can’t dip in and out of it when you’re feeling ‘blocked’, looking to introduce a new character, or figuring out what could happen in your next chapter.
As mentioned above, there is a group of Suffolk ‘wrimos’ who get together to write and offer each other encouragement (and if any of you are reading this, please feel free to use our libraries as a meeting space!). If you can’t get to their write-ins, or are looking for further writerly socialisation, several of our libraries host regular writers’ group meetings. Simply find your local library on our list and see what they have to offer.
Although the novel you’re writing this month is by nature going to be a rough draft, if, over the following months, you keep working on it, straightening your structure, polishing your characters, filling in your plot holes and correcting your hasty mis-spellings and grammar faux pas, you could end up with a story you love and think that others will want to read. Why not make it available to Suffolk Libraries customers with our Suffolk Writes service?
You just have to follow a few easy guidelines to submit your work, and if one of our volunteer reviewers approves its presentation, spelling and grammar and content, we’ll make it available on our ebook service, OverDrive, and promote it as part of the Suffolk Writes project. As you retain your ebook’s copyright and will be listed as the publisher in its online catalogue entry, you’re free to distribute it in other ways, too - this could be just the first step in a great publishing record!