NaNoWriMo Hope, and Some Book Reviews Too

With my busy schedule, I’ve decided to fall back on fewer blog posts, at least for the time being… which is why they’ll be a little longer than my previous posts.

NaNoWriMo Advice

I regret to say that I decided not to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. For one thing, I’ve been so busy that I’ve had barely any time to write at all, much less write almost 2 thousand words a day. For another, and this is perhaps the bigger issue, my current work in progress is in the middle of a heavy edit. The whole point of NaNoWriMo is to practice spitting out your first draft. Revision, however, is not something to be rushed.

And here’s where my advice comes in, for whatever it’s worth.

Novel writing, in the best of circumstances, can be a stressful endeavor. There’s a dozen different facets to creating a novel. Plotting, character profiling, world-building, writing, revising… I love being a writer because I’m good at creating characters and revising, and because I love the idea of creating new worlds. But I also know that I stress too much over the actual writing. You might be the opposite.

The important thing to remember is that NaNoWriMo isn’t here to give you a superb book that’s ready for publishing. It’s about just throwing words together so that it exists. Whatever your weaknesses, be they plotting or creating characters or simply writing, you have to let yourself forget just how bad or good you are at a thing, and just get it done.  You can worry about strengthening your character motivations, ironing out plot holes, or revising bad writing, but do it later. For the rest of the month, ignore how bad you think the story is and just let words come out.

Mini Book Reviews

City of Glass

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Author: Paul Auster

Genre: Mystery

Rating: 3 stars

This is one of those weird niche books that make it difficult to express how you feel about it. City of Glass is metafiction, to a certain degree, but in its attempt to comment on detective fiction as a whole, it fell a bit flat for me. Nothing was resolved. I didn’t hate it. I thought it was interesting, especially in the beginning. But the ending fell flat. If you like metafiction, though, hey…. maybe you’ll get more out of this book than I did.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

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Author: Alexander McCall Smith

Genre: Detective fiction

Rating: 4 stars

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency was a book that I did enjoy reading. It’s episodic rather than zeroing in on one mystery, but it’s careful to link the story together with one that’s drawn out carefully throughout. The novel was more about commenting on society than about actual crime and murder, and I thought that McCall had at least a handful of things pegged right. However, the very last page made me quite angry, and if you ever read it, maybe you’ll see why. It wasn’t a bad ending, per se, although you could argue that it wasn’t exactly wrapped up well either. Just, from a woman’s point of view, I think the ending could have been more tactfully handled. Other than that, the main character, a female detective, brought something new to a genre that seems to be dominated by male detectives. If you like detective fiction, I’d suggest you try this one.

The Long Halloween

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Author: Jeff Loeb and Tim Sale

Genre: DC comic (Batman)

Rating: 2 stars

There’s a lot of things I really didn’t like about the Long Halloween. First of all, maybe it’s just because I’m not an avid comic book reader, but I was really confused with the paneling and the imagery. Sometimes it was just too difficult to figure out who was getting murdered. For another, the unmasking of the Holiday killer was not only difficult to swallow; it was downright infuriating. I hate books that pull a surprise stunt like that at the end. Not to mention, I didn’t even think it made sense. I give it two stars, rather than one, because I understand that maybe I’m missing some vital background information, et cetera, and because I think the storyline was… alright. If you do like Batman, though, you might like this one.

Bitterblue

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Author: Kristin Cashore

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5 stars

I returned to this book, one of my favorite books of all time, during a period of emotional turmoil for me. One of these days, I’m going to have a post dedicated solely to the Graceling Realm series, but for today I’ll settle for why I came back to Bitterblue for the upteenth time. It takes place many years after Leck’s reign, and Bitterblue and her city is still haunted by what happened. Kristin Cashore tackles a lot of big issues, such as suicide and self-harm, but also the power divide between royalty and commoners, and she doesn’t settle on a cliche ending. It’s really rough, and difficult, for Bitterblue, but everything is paced nicely and resolved nicely too. And, truly, there’s no better feeling in the world than seeing the two previous stories connect with the present. Absolutely lovely.

The Warded Man

I’ve slowly been making my way through this novel. It’s a bit slow to start, and so far I’m a little disappointed in how easily certain skills come to each of the characters, but I like it so far and am eager to give a full review when I’m finished.

Writing Prompt

For NaNoWriMo, a novel-friendly writing prompt to help get (or keep) the creativity flowing.

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“After All He Has Done For You. Pick one of your secondary characters: what is the ONE thing they would never do for the Protagonist? Write a scene where they realize this, in the worst way possible.”

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