If you're anything like me, you're right in the midst of your latest NaNoWriMo project right about now. If you're even more like me, you're about 3000 words behind today's goal with no idea what's going to happen next in your story, but your Pinterest inspiration board for your novel is probably looking pretty fly.
In the true spirit of slightly useful procrastination today I am sharing with you five extremely useful books on writing, any of which might help you if you're also struggling to keep up with your novel.
No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty
I can't write a list of NaNoWriMo books without mentioning the NaNoWriMo book. Written by the founder of NaNoWriMo himself, Chris Baty, No Plot? No Problem! is the perfect guidebook for this mad month of writing. It is exactly 50,000 words long and split into different chapters that are to be read before the month starts and then at the beginning of each week in November, addressing common problems for each point in the month for maximum writerly inspiration.
45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt
I first read this one (and the next book on this list) a few years ago but I go back to it again and again every time I start a new project. If you struggle with creating complex characters, or even if you just want to brush up on the different types of characters out there, this is an excellent guide. It won't give you a step by step for creating a realistic character, but it will definitely help you understand your own characters better and give you a few ideas on how to flesh them out.
20 Master Plots and How to Build Them by Ronald B. Tobias
As you can probably tell from the covers 20 Master Plots and 45 Master Characters are from the same series and they both follow a similar sort of structure. They are also both equally useful and I refer to both of them more than any of the other writing books I own. The idea of there only being a finite number of plots isn't a new one but Tobias presents his plots in this book with detailed examples of stories you're probably familiar with and he breaks down each of the plots in a way that can really help you to pinpoint exactly which plot is right for your story and how you might develop it.
The Art of Fiction by David Lodge
This one is more about the general art of fiction writing. Rather than addressing any one aspect of novel writing, Lodge uses examples from famous texts to demonstrate concepts such as 'The Unreliable Narrator', 'Showing and Telling', and 'Symbolism' in a series of short essays. If there is a specific aspect of the craft of writing that you're struggling with, you can probably find an essay about it in The Art of Fiction.
Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande
This last book has nothing to do with the craft of fiction writing whatsoever. Being a Writer is about exactly that. It's about not only how to get yourself to actually sit down and write that thing you've been thinking about forever but more than that, it's about how to think like a writer. I think a lot of writers would probably find themselves reflected in this book (particularly the section where Brande talks about the things that hold back different kinds of writers.) Brande understands writers and her book might be the thing to kickstart you into finally writing like a writer.
So those are my five, quite varied, recommendations for books about writing to help you through NaNoWriMo (or any writing project!) Are you doing NaNoWriMo? Let me know how you're going in the comments! And feel free to share your own recommendations for books about writing. I am a fiend for books about writing.