We are in the last week of prepping for NaNoWriMo 2022. Today we’re going to look at affordable resources for developing writing craft and sourcing information pertinent to your project.
Let’s start with craft. If you are at the beginning stage of your writing life, it’s hard to know where to find help in shaping your work into a coherent story. For many years, I didn’t even know books on the craft of writing existed.
One day in 1990, I stumbled upon a book offered in the Science Fiction Book Club catalog: How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card. The day that book arrived in my mailbox changed my life. That was the day I gave myself permission to be a writer.
I recommend checking out the NaNoWriMo Store, as it offers several books to help you get started. These books have good advice for beginners, whether you participate in November’s writing rumble or want to write at your own pace.
Are you a first-time writer or a young author? While it is written for middle graders, adults just starting out will find good information in this book.
From the official Blurb: Partly a how-to guide on the nitty-gritty of writing, partly a collection of inspiration to set (and meet) ambitious goals, Brave the Page is the go-to resource for middle-grade writers. Narrated in a fun, refreshingly kid-friendly voice, it champions NaNoWriMo’s central mission that everyone’s stories deserve to be told. The volume includes chapters on character, plot, setting, and the like; motivating essays from popular authors; advice on how to commit to your goals; a detailed plan for writing a novel or story in a month; and more!
Are you writing a memoir but don’t know how to get started?
From the official Blurb: Written by former NaNoWriMo Program Director Lindsey Grant, Ready, Set, Memoir! is full of helpful lists, exercises, inspiring quotes from famous memoirists, advice, lessons, and humor to help walk you through the writing process. This guided journal will inspire and motivate you to write—and finish!—your memoir.
Finishing off the resources from the official NaNoWriMo store is the handbook, No Plot, No Problem!
This book is a resource for people who want to write but don’t know where to start.
From the official Blurb: When you add No Plot? No Problem! to your personal library, it’ll give you a run for your lexical money! It’s a writing heavyweight, muscled with advice, activities, pep talks, and prompts that are sure to match your brain swing for swing in a literary tussle. Challenge this guide, and win, and you’ll have written a champ of a novel that can hold its own in the ring!
What if you are ready to move beyond the beginning stages and need more advanced information? My personal library of books on craft is huge. I can’t stop buying them. But what are the books I refer back to most frequently?
The following is the list of books that are the pillars of my reference library:
- Damn Fine Story, by Chuck Wendig
- Dialogue, by Robert McKee
- Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story, by Ursula K. Le Guin
- Story, by Robert McKee
- The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, and I also have the companion books in that series.
- The Sound on the Page, by Ben Yagoda
- The Writer’s Journey, by Christopher Vogler
- VERBALIZE by Damon Suede and its companion book, Activate.
How do we source information that pertains to our story? What about the internet?
We usually start our online hunt for information by “googling” a question, no matter what browser you use. Be wary and read several articles to get a broader view of what you are looking for. I also check dates to ensure the information is current and bookmark it if it is relevant to my story. Note: Your browsing history may look a little … unusual … after a while.
Some libraries have a service where one can submit a question and have it answered by email. If that isn’t an option and we’re feeling ambitious, we can check out books on any subject.
Resources for authors to bookmark in general:
www.Thesaurus.Com This is good for when I need to know, “What’s another word that means the same as this word but isn’t weird or repetitive?”
Oxford Dictionary online is brilliant for when I need to know, “Does this word mean what I think it means? Am I using it correctly?”
Wikipedia – The font of all knowledge, or so I hear. My go-to source of info is often Wikipedia. This resource is created and edited by volunteers. All articles must provide proper citations and reference links to outside sources to support every statement. Articles that don’t meet specific criteria are flagged. Some opinions may be presented as facts when discussing art or literature. But overall, I always find something useful by looking at the links in their footnotes and going directly to those sources.
You can learn just about anything on YouTube. That’s where I learned how to make a glass orb and is where I learned how medieval swords were made.
So, let’s talk about writers’ groups. A good group is the best way to learn about this craft. Your area may have established writers’ groups, and some may be able to accept new members. The best way to find out is to google writer’s groups in your town and make inquiries.
Attend a few meetings as an observer to see if this group is a good fit for you.
If you don’t feel comfortable meeting in person or via Zoom, see what online writers’ forums might fit your needs. I participated in an excellent online group, Critters Workshop, for several years while testing the waters of the writing community.
In 2010, I gained a wonderful local group through attending write-ins for NaNoWriMo. Nowadays, we meet weekly via zoom. My fellow writers are a never-ending source of support and information about both the craft and the industry. We write in a wide diversity of genres and gladly help each other bring new books into the world. But more than that, we are good, close friends.
So this is my short list of resources for the beleaguered author. Monday will be the final post in this NaNoWriMo Prep series and will focus on how to find time to write when life wants to derail you.
Posts in this series:
#NaNoWriMo prep part 1: Deciding on the Project #amwriting
#NaNoWriMo prep part 2: Character Creation #amwriting
#NaNoWriMo prep part 3: Designing Worlds #amwriting
#NaNoWriMo prep part 4: Plot Arc #amwriting
#NaNoWriMo prep part 5: How the Story Ends #amwriting