This year’s Nanowrimo has come to an end! If you’ve hit 50K words, congratulations! If you’ve managed to get only 30K words, congratulations still! No matter how many words you wrote this month, the point is that you wrote some, and that’s better than nothing. For those of you who achieved or even excelled past 50K words, you’re probably looking back at the month’s work and thinking to yourself, “how could I ever have thought this was good?”
The good news is that such is a normal pattern of thought after completing a first draft of a novel. You have your manuscript written… What next? Revision.
Below are four must-read books that will guide you during the long and arduous process of turning those 200-ish pages of gibberish into a coherent and compelling story that’s bound to shake the world.
Save The Cat! Writes A Novel – Jessica Brody
Nanowrimo is great for writing first drafts; however, the key characteristic of first drafts is that they are awful. If you’re just now realizing that your literary baby makes no sense, this book will be your guiding light. Based on Blake Snyder’s famous Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need, Jessica Brody reframed its contents to be specific for novelists.
The book covers the 15 Beat Story Structure that is supposedly universal in all great stories. On top of her initial walk-through, she lays out 10 different story types, complete with examples from popular books. If your issue is the direction of your story, read Save The Cat! Writes A Novel, pick out which story type best fits with your premise, and run with it! If you’re interested in more advice, Jessica Brody has her own YouTube channel, which you can reach by clicking here.
Write Your Novel from the Middle – James Scott Bell
Chances are good that you’ve stumbled upon one of his books before. James Scott Bell has published a number of fantastic manuals on writing and every other aspect tied to that career. Write Your Novel from the Middle is a short stick of writer’s dynamite that will blast through the mountain of your writer’s block. The book homes in on the fundamental importance of a story’s midpoint, showing examples from literature and film; however, it’s not just the middle that he discusses. If you need a big-picture glimpse at great story structure, get yourself a copy!
Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success – K. M. Weiland
Similar to the previous two books, this one focuses on ensuring that you get the most from the journey of writing a novel. Whether you’re a gardener or an architect, it always pays to get as concrete as possible with your story so that you can set your fingers and imagination loose on the keyboard.
In her book, Weiland discusses her methods of outlining that she employed to write her own novels. Unlike the previous mentions, which focus on the big-picture structure of story, she places great importance on the minute steps of outlining, from brainstorming, listing scenes, clarifying themes, creating characters, and how to tie everything together. If you’ve got a novel idea (or a confusing first draft) and want to make it coherent to yourself and others, invest the time in reading Weiland’s book. It’ll pay off in both the short and long-term of your rewriting.
Writing and Selling Your Novel – Jack M. Bickham
This book stands out for its all-encompassing nature, which makes it less of a book to skim through and more of a long-term writing guide. Bickham packed each chapter with exercises that will make you think and work better as a writer. Unlike the other books mentioned, which cover the outlining process exclusively, Bickham’s book provides a well-lit path from first draft to publication. It’s a mix of optimism and honesty for what it takes to become a great novelist.
Whether you succeeded at Nanowrimo or missed the mark, these books will help you along in the process of turning your story into something more workable. This month is not about crafting the perfect next bestseller; rather, the challenge is meant to help you get that story out of your head and onto the word processor. With that done, you can then move on to polishing your soon-to-be magnum opus. Bookstr wishes you luck.
Featured Images Via On The Set Of New York & Yahoo