NaNoWriMo Prep: "A Few Guide Books to Get You Started"


As I'm sure you suspect, my posts will continue to focus enirely on the impending arrival of NaNoWriMo next month. October is, and has been known for a while, as "NaNoWriMo" prep month. In celebration of both, we will keep focusing on prepping for the biggest writing event of the year!

Every writer has their own way of researching and compiling reference material for their writing projects, whether that involves bookmarking a million tabs on your computer or collecting a pile of books, the important thing is having your research on hand while crunching out your word count.

Since I am one of those avid collectors of reference books that assist in writing, I thought I would share some of my favorite books just in time for NaNoWriMo.

1) Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction: How to Create Out-of-This-World Novels and Short Stories by Orson Scott Card, Philip Athans, Jay Lake and the Editors of Writer's Digest

This particular book is a very detailed guide to building worlds, monsters, societies, you name it. This book is definitely a go-to when it comes to tackling a science fiction or fantasy project with plenty of detail from a handful of experts who boast a plentitude of experience.

conveniently, this book also offers plenty of help to the writer tackling these genres for the very first time. I appreciate the fact that the entire first chapter of this book is spent defining comprehensible lines between the genres of both fantasy and sci-fi and how these lines can blend.

2) Writing the Paranormal Novel: Techniques and Exercises for Weaving Supernatural Elements Into Your Story by Steven Harper

Similarly to the previous book listed, Harper's book boasts an extensive amount of knowledge pertaining to fantasy and sci-fi elements in fiction. The biggest difference however, is Harper's book focuses entirely on weaving the paranormal into any genre of fiction (and even non-fiction). My favorite aspect of this book is perhaps how effective Harper is in teaching how one goes about utilizing the supernatural as an element in a story.

3) Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus Third Edition

This is perhaps my favorite book of reference I have in my arsenal. This is more than just a list of words, it is literally your solution to finding that perfect word choice. Not once has this massive book failed me and always has it given me that perfect word.

This thesaurus is no nonsense, easy to use and very dependable. Every writer needs a thesaurus and this is definitely the one you'll need.

4) The Writer's Digest Character Naming Sourcebook Second Edition

The Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus is a writer's dream when it comes to word choice, and The Writer's Digest Character Naming Sourcebook is your dream when it comes to naming characters. The first half of this book lists names and then their meanings, the second half list meanings and then the names associated with them.

Each chapter is divided in two halves, male and female names by race (French, German, English, Swedish, etc) and each listing boasts all the different methods of spelling them. Whether you are looking for a quick name for a character or are prepared to embark on an extensive journey for the perfect name, this book is definitely what you will need.

5) Writer's Guide to Character Traits by Dr.Linda Edelstein

This is your go-to character workbook. Edelstein goes into an entire page by page exploration of methods of writing your way in and out of character tropes and creative ways of working your character into ways of functioning with ease in your plot.

This book also offers a helpful amount of detail on traditional traits of, say, a serial killer, the tragic hero, the scheming dealer, the amnesiac etc.

There are also plenty of exercises throughout to get your creative juices flowing and piece together what may be next for your characters on their journeys.

6) The Writer's Idea Thesaurus : An Interactive Guide for Developing Ideas for Novels and Short Stories by Fred White

This book breaks down plot to an "almost-formula." Don't let that scare you because we all know that plot can't be dulled down to an algebraic formula (especially since a lot of crappy Hollywood films tend to give us a first hand example of why it doesn't work). Instead, this book turns out to be a book full of hypothetical scenarios that train your brain to be more savvy at developing plot.

The chapters are literally titled: "The Adventures of X," "The Conquest of X," "Love Between X & Y," etc. Each page will run through all possible outcomes of any of these scenarios and challenge you to come up with your own. This is definitely worth having in your arsenal of reference material, especially for those frustrating times when you are stuck and don't know where next to take your plot.

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