Thursday, October 30, 2014

It's National Novel Writing Month

Do you have a book inside of you? National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, challenges you to produce a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days.

If you've always wanted to write a book, NaNoWriMo is an exhilarating writing marathon. Get started on their website, where you'll find rules, forums, and a calendar of in-person meetups.

If you write, consider joining one of the library's writing groups. We have groups for adults at the Warrenton and Bealeton branches and for teens grades 6+ at all three library locations. No registration is required and all are welcome.

To get started as a writer, all you need is a pen or keyboard and a willingness to try something new. Still, it can be helpful to learn about how other writers approach their writing. Here are some books on writing that I recommend:

On Writing is hands-down the best introductory writing book I've read. Pick it up even if you don't normally read Stephen King.

King talks candidly about his journey as a professional writer, discussing his failures as well as his successes. Then he introduces his writing "toolbox"—the techniques that he uses to craft effective stories. It's an excellent crash course in the skills required to write contemporary fiction—skills, King argues, that anyone can develop through practice.

I think of Gardner as an "old school" twentieth-century literary novelist, and The Art of Fiction is just a bit stodgy—you'll have to overlook, for instance, his use of "he" / "him" to refer to young writers.

This book is nevertheless a superb, thought-provoking introduction to the writing craft. Gardner discusses the origins of fiction and the basic techniques of crafting sentences, scenes, and stories. By getting you to think deeply about stories, The Art of Fiction will help you make confident decisions about your storytelling.

This book bills itself as an alternative to Strunk & White's Elements of Style, the writing manual that champions a style of writing that is correct and concise—but maybe not very much fun.

The goal of Plotnik's book is to produce writing that is "bold and radiant" as well as readable. He helps you understand the rules of language and style—and gives you pointers on when to break those rules.

If grammar makes you want to pull your hair out, we have many up-to-date titles about grammar and style, such as Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing.

Happy writing!

Becky @ Warrenton

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