Sunday, November 1, 2015

Writer Support #1 - Top 3 Writing Guides

It's that time of year, where Nerdfighters and iggles everywhere are dusting off their favorite notebooks (or picking up new ones), opening up Microsoft Word on their computers, and digging deep for the beginning of National Novel Writing Month! This year, I regret to inform you all that I won't be participating in the incredibly fun and chaotic tradition known as NaNoWriMo, but that is not because I didn't enjoy my experience with it last year. I reached over 26,000 words during the very first time I attempted NaNo, and I am extremely proud of that accomplishment, and I absolutely plan on joining in with the insanity another time. But for now, I have to focus on things like getting a job and organizing the clutter that I'm constantly surrounded by. And, not to mention, I put on quite a bit of weight from all the snacking at my laptop last year XP

But that doesn't mean that I won't be focused on writing this month either! Not only do I plan on trying to flex my creative writing muscles on a few personal projects I'd like to get off the ground, but I'm hoping to be able to write some more posts here for all of you :) Which leads me to introducing this new series of posts that I plan on writing for the month of November, which is currently named Writer Support. I want to act as a sort of NaNoWriMo cheerleader this year, even though I myself am not participating, and try to help in any way that I can. In order to do that, I'm going to be writing a variety of posts that are in some way related to writing, reading, and/or the writing process for your enjoyment. If there's anything in particular you'd like me to address in these posts, let me know in the comments below.

For my first post in these series, I am going to be sharing with you my top 3 writing manual recommendations. Something you may not know about my is among some of the things I like to collect, aside from picture frames and a mass amount of manga volumes, is that I love collecting various writing guides. Whenever I see them in my usual bookstore, or in the used bookstore, or even in the adorable writing section of my old university's bookstore, I always end up picking up these helpful tomes to add to my collection. With the amount of these that I have flipped through in the past, I've discovered what kinds of advice and formats these guides include are helpful for honing my craft, and which haven't offered any advice that was worth reading. While I own plenty more than these three guides, these are my favorites for referencing when I need a little nudge in the "write" direction.

#3: The Nighttime Novelist: Finish Your Novel in Your Spare Time by Joseph Bates! I came across this beauty in my university's bookstore, where I have found some of my favorite writing guides over the years. As somebody who was a full-time student and was also struggling with a glimpse at a social life and working a part-time job, finding a guide that would help me organize time to write among all of the other important aspects of my day-to-day life was ideal. The author Joseph Bates makes all of his advice and guides very easy to understand, although you may find there to be quite a large number of references to The Road by Cormac McCarthy XP

This book is formatted in a way that is both very easy to follow and keeps you wanting to flip to the next page. The pages are colourful and each chapter is even organized into three categories: Technique, Hurdle, and Going Deeper. This guide is chock full of helpful tips and it even contains a number of exercises and worksheets to help improve your writing. There are sections on Complicating your Characters, Crafting and Maintaining Suspense, and even Developing Initial Ideas. Just looking at and flipping through this book makes me want to start writing :) The Nighttime Novelist is just the kind of creative guide to help you take your creative writing even further

#2: Crafting the Personal Essay: A Guide For Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction by Dinty W. Moore! For those of you who think the words "creative" and "nonfiction" shouldn't go together, think again! I learned all about the wonders of creative nonfiction in my 4th year of university, and it was probably around then that I decided to pick up this handy little guide from the university bookstore. Through my class and watching videos from Lindsay's Library I became fascinated with the genre of creative nonfiction, and I know that not everybody who is participating in NaNoWriMo is writing strictly fictional work.

Moore's guide helps to teach its readers how to write a personal essay, but at the same time not make it a private piece of writing that outside readers won't be able to gain anything from. His chapters provide a closer work at a few creative nonfiction pieces and there are also helpful hints to write a wide variety of personal essays, from the humorous to the spiritual to the "gastronomical" and so on. This guide is split into two sections - Writing the Essay and Reaching Readers. According to Moore, "the personal essay is an ever-changing creative medium that provides an ideal vehicle for satisfying the human urge to document truths as we experience them and share them with others - to capture a bit of life on paper." And this easy-to-follow, extremely helpful guide on creative nonfiction helps you do just that!

#1: This Is Not A Writing Manual: Notes for the Young Writer in the Real World by Kerri Majors! Not just for the clever title but for the format in which it is made, this guide is by far my favorite piece of writing reference material. Kerri Majors has both published pieces of fiction and has also worked as a teacher of creative writing. Throughout that process, she has undoubtedly flipped through her share of writing guides, and This Is Not A Writing Manual takes on a unique format from the traditional writing manual; Instead of teaching young people about the intricacies of creative writing, she attempts to explain to a younger generation of writers through her own experiences "why and how the writing life is worth the torture of listening to all that bummer [writing] advice and discovering that it's all true."

Surely anyone that has considered writing as a part of their future, whether you've wanted to become a novelist or are simply hoping to crack The New York Times list in your spare time, somebody has surely expressed subtly or not-so-subtly how you will have your work cut out for you. As somebody who was a teenager with a dream to write, Majors has written a collection of personal experiences and anecdotes that also help to give practical, sage advice about the craft of writing, and this guide helps not only with the writing process but with the process of getting published as well. This is a guide that I have read cover to cover and I always enjoy going back to it to re-read from its pages when I need a refresher on why I want to write so badly and how I can work to make my writing better for myself and for others.

I hope you guys enjoyed me sharing my top 3 writing guides with you :) For anybody participating in NaNoWriMo this month, another necessary guide that you should look into getting is the official NaNo "bible" by the creator himself, No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing A Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty. When I attempted NaNo for the first time last year, this book was my rock, and the others were such a big help when I needed something to fall back on.

I plan on doing more posts like this throughout November, so I hope you'll let me know if there's anything in particular you would like me to write about. Whether you want to know about some good resources for writing prompts or some recommendations for writing-friendly snacks, post in the comments below! Happy writing, folks!

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