Friday, November 7, 2014

NaNoWriMo Day 7: The End of Week One

One week down, just over four more to go. It's an hour until the end of Week One of NaNoWriMo, and I am resting comfortably at nearly 12000 words. A quarter of my novel is done, or just about. 

Between school, our fall musical, and NaNo I have been working nonstop. Most of my classes are so mind numbingly easy that I just sit and write through most of them. So, most nights I hit my word goal before 10 PM. 

Week One has been the beginning of a whirlwind adventure. I found a novel idea and went with it, letting it take me where ever it pleases. Sure, my characters need a little more oomph, and the plot is slowly (but surely) unfolding, but, hey, I'm writing my butt off. I know where I want to go and I'm getting there. My main character, Rowan, the name sake of the book, still isn't sure exactly what she wants, and some of her opinions aren't clear, but the sass is strong with her. 

And from that we segue directly into the main topic of this post: Books on Fiction Writing. 

I avoid "How To" books about writing like they are ebola and I am America. Sorry, too soon? Most books about writing are so bad that they are not even worth cutting down the trees used to make them. I would rather eat razor blades than read some of the books about writing that are out there. 

Some people say, "Those who can't, teach."
Writing Magic
 By Gail Carson Levine

I say, "Those who can't, write books about how to." 

The first book about writing that I ever purchased was by Gail Carson Levine, the lovely author of Ella Enchanted. Her book on writing was titled Writing Magic, and I bought it because I thought it was an actual novel. To this day, it is one of the most well used books that I own. What I loved about it most was the way she talked about how she wrote and the fact that she didn't try to shove her way down your throat. To middle school me, it was a godsend. 
No Plot? No Problem!
By Chris Baty

A few years later, after two or three years of doing NaNoWriMo, I asked for No Plot? No Problem! A Low Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo. Even though I wasn't in the middle of NaNo, I read it anyway. The book is specific to NaNo, but offers tons of helpful tips and trick for any kind of writing. 

On Writing
By Stephen King

Probably the best book about writing that I have ever read is On Writing by Stephen King. On Writing is half-memoir, half-writing advise and completely and utterly fascinating. I've never been a huge reader of Stephen King, but I heard that On Writing was a must read. When I found it randomly at a Barnes and Nobel, I knew I had to take it home. I consumed the book in a matter of days. King tells his story beginning to middle (because he's not dead), describing how he became a writer and the events in his life that influenced his choice. In the second part, King tells how he writes, some rules of thumb for drafts and editing, and advise on writing and showing your work. On Writing is a little more strict about how writing should be done, but at the same time King understands that not every story will follow every rule and not every writer is the same. King is intelligent, witty, and downright hilarious at times. Read it. Read it now. 

So, moral of the story is: There are some good books on writing out there, they are just hard to find. Watch out for imposing bastards who try to shove their "correct ways of writing" down your throat. 

I hope you guys take a look at some of these. And, if you read them, comment below about what you think about them! I'd love to hear more. 


Saturday, November 1, 2014

NaNoWriMo Day One: Diving In

It's just past 11 P.M. where I live, and the great first day of NaNoWriMo is drawing to a close. The only reason I'm writing this post instead of my novel is because I'm exhausted and I put 2033 words in already. So, why not blog about it?

Last night, I decided to scrap the "first" idea that I had for my story. Something about it just felt off. However, I kept at least two of the characters, the title, and one character description: Rowan and Petra; Rowan; and Thief, respectively. I made myself go to sleep after fretting for an hour about not having a plot. I told myself that I would find one today, and I have.

I'm diving in. Nothing planned. Just an inkling of an idea. And, it's scary. It's nothing I've ever written before. It's something I know very little about. I have complete control and no control at the same time. And, it also makes me say this: take the phrase "write what you know" and set it on fire.

Writers who say "write what you know" are just afraid of the unknown. They don't have the guts to take an idea and jump right in. Nope, they prefer to stay in the safe zone, perhaps poking a toe outside the line when absolutely necessary.

Do you think that J.K. Rowling knew everything about Wizardry when she wrote Harry Potter? No. Did James Patterson know anything about human-avian hybrids when he wrote Maximum Ride? No, probably not.

I guess what I trying to say is that writing is an art. Art is what gives life meaning. When you write about something you don't know, you are helping yourself as a writer and a person, and you are adding your own little twist to something that might have been written a thousand times before.

Experiment. Expand your mind. Expand the mind of your readers. Write what you don't know.

Have a Happy NaNoWriMo!