November brings National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). If you’ve been secretly harboring a desire to write a novel, here are some lessons that helped me and might help you. It goes without saying that if you want to be a writer you need to write a lot and read a lot. But if you want a little more than that. If you’re like me and want a more actionable plan, these 8 steps can help you get started, keep at it, and most importantly, finish it.
As I’m getting back into my own writing, I’ve been reading or listening to a lot of thrillers and mysteries and trying to analyze the books by what I’m learning from The Story Grid. Why is it written this way? Why is it structured this way? Where is the turning point?
I know it’s a good book when I’m flipping pages and forgetting to ask those questions. That’s the type of book I’d like to write some day.
Psychological thrillers seem to be having their genre moment of late with seemingly every other book tagged with the “p-word” and all the authors cross-blurbing each other happily.
When done well, the shifting loyalties, paranoia and creeping sense of dread can make a plot sing with intensity. But it’s not easy. Done poorly, it can yank the reader out of the narrative and the plot can thud along unrealistically.
The new year got off to a bit of a slow start. I fell into a reading rut after the holidays. Started and stopped a number of books, never finding anything that really captured my attention. In the end, I read mostly thrillers, typical for me, but nothing that really snapped my head back.
Turned to a couple of John Milton thrillers mid-month to try to jumpstart the mojo as I knew they would be solid and propulsively plotted and would get me back in the habit of reaching for a book.
The one big outlier this month was Victoria, the book club pick this month. I put off reading this one as it fell well outside my typical fare, but I ended up really enjoying it and would recommend people give it a try.
Almost 65% of American households have an Amazon Prime membership. That’s a staggering number and I’m sure most use their membership solely for the 2-day shipping, but it offers a lot of other benefits. Based on my own unscientific study of asking friends, one benefit that is often overlooked is the ability to borrow one free Kindle Unlimited book each month. Given that the price of a lot of Kindle books can still be high, 12 free books a year is a good deal and can further help you recoup the cost of membership.
I’ll end 2017 with 63 books read. Pretty good and higher than the last few years.
I came up short on my goal to read 12 non-fiction books, only reading 7 as the second half the year I started really concentrating on learning more about story, genre, craft and doing more of my own writing again. To learn writing, you need to read and I read a lot in the mystery/crime/thriller genre.
In no particular order, these are the books that stuck with me (when you read as much as I do, if you can remember the plot after a few days, it’s the sign of a good book) and that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to a friend.
Before we moved out to the ‘burbs, we lived in Brookline (a stubbornly independent town surrounded by Boston). There were many great things about living in Brookline and just minutes from the city: good pizza, museums, bakeries, many bars, shopping, weirdos, runners, and all the history.
By far one of the best things, for me, was the Brookline Booksmith bookstore in Coolidge Corner. I was there multiple times a week. Sometimes for events, sometimes to buy, and sometimes just to hang out with the books.