It’s that time again. Time for leaves to fall from trees and the temperature to finally fall somewhere south of 90. It’s also time for that writing challenge extraordinaire. That’s right, NaNoWriMo is back!
For those of you not in the know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It is your goal, should you choose to accept, to write an entire novel in the 30 days that are November. Hopefully you’ve already started. If not, you need to get on your horse and get writing.
To help you get going, and possibly inspire, I offer these delightful books I found about writing:
This was a little different entry on writing. Instead of talking about grammar rules or story construction, Edmundson looked at various writers’ motivations for writing. Each chapter looked at a different writer and what they brought to the field of writing. I will say that it was very clear that Edmundson is a college English professor because his choices of writers were pretty highbrow (and not unexpected). Let me just say that he did not discuss anything from Janet Evanovich or Ernest Cline. And while I did not agree with all of his ideas, just the fact that you could read a book about writing that did not include the phrase “subject/verb agreement” was pretty fun.
This book was amazing. I thought it was going to be, “This is an adverb. This is a subjective clause.” Blah blah blah. But it wasn’t. It was more like how to be a better person and how grammar can facilitate that. Weird, right? But it works. For example, here’s what the author had to say about passive voice: “In compulsively standing guard against unreason (of course, to some extent we have to be on guard in that direction, since consequential bad decisions periodically descend on us from those same creviced hills in the brain), we deny ourselves access to the region where – alongside unappreciated mundane skills like sequencing adjectives or breaking a fall – many of our best, most valuable resources for creative life reside: instincts and dim memories, unpredictable associations...too forcible a feeling of ‘being in charge’ [active voice] somehow drives them into hiding.” A little dense and a little deep, but once you parse the meaning, the magic awakens.
This is possibly the book that I thought the last book was going to be. Lots of good advice about the actual mechanics of writing. But, it was written by someone who’s been working with and as a writer for a long time, so her suggestions had more punch. Trish Hall is a former editor for the New York Times Op-Ed page, and I was impressed that she said “no” to so many powerful people when their writing wasn’t good enough. Her stance: just because you’re famous doesn’t mean every thought you have is gold and every word you write is precious. It was kind of a refreshing point of view. I really enjoyed this book both for its stories about writing and for its grammar guidance. If you are any kind of writer, even just one who writes for work, this book would be helpful (and enjoyable).
Good luck, and let’s get writing!