Books on Writing Books & The Next Deadline

In recent months I have read the following books on writing books:

  • Chris Manby – Writing for Love – a fantastic, step by step guide to help you plot out your novel from a very successful novelist.
  • Chuck Wendig – 500 Ways To Be A Better Writer – anecdotal, funny, rude and helpful while being highly entertaining!
  • Chris Baty – No Plot, No Problem – A ridiculously funny book on writing that only slightly mad (or desperate) people would imitate in order to get words down on paper at any cost! (Right up my street then!)
  • Cathy Yardly – Rock Your Plot – detailed and well referenced. Great for pinning down plot details to help you create a wire-frame to build your story.

(I’ve just noticed that each author’s name begins with ‘C’ – how freaky).

Each one has proven valuable, but my favourite so far has been Chris Baty’s No Plot, No Problem simply because, right now, I need to break through hell hole that is known as the first draft!

As the founder of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month – where thousands of writers sign up to pen/type 50,000 words in one month) Chris Baty is well placed to discuss the merits of writing for writing’s sake and worrying about the rest later (a.k.a. editing and any kind of sensible prose).

For a perfectionist, Type A personality like me, there’s a heady appeal to writing simply for word count alone. It’s similar to learning a new exercise: you have to do it again and again before you can master it!

If I keep worrying about a first draft that is flawless, I will be eighty before I finish writing this damn book!

If you read my earlier post The Plan Is… then you will know that tomorrow is my plot deadline. Well I managed to create a very basic plot for two books! *high five*

The next deadline!

From 1st until 30th April, I will be undertaking my own unofficial NaNoWriMo. That’s right! 50,000 words in 30 days! That’s 29 days of 1,666 words and 1 day at 1,686 words.

I have signed the “Month-Long Novelist Agreement and Statement of Understanding”

I hereby pledge my intent to write a 50,000 word novel in one month’s time. By invoking an absurd, month long deadline on such an enormous undertaking, I understand that notions of “craft”, “brilliance”, and “competency” are to be chucked right out the window, where they will remain, ignored, until that are retrieved for the editing process. I understand that I am a talented person, capable of heroic acts of creativity, and I will give myself enough time over the course of the next month to allow my innate gifts to come to the surface, unmolested by self-doubt, self-criticism, and other acts of self-bullying.


During the month ahead, I realize I will produce clunky dialogue, clichéd characters, and deeply flawed plots. I agree that all of these things will be left in my rough draft, to be corrected and/or excised at a later point. I understand my right to withhold my manuscript from all readers until I deem it completed. I also acknowledge my right as author to substantially inflate both the quality of the rough draft and rigors of the writing process should such inflation prove useful in garnering me respect and attention, or freedom from participation in onerous household chores.


I acknowledge that the month-long, 50,000-word deadline I set for myself is absolute and unchangeable, and that any failure to meet the deadline, or any effort on my part to move the deadline once the adventure has begun, will invite well-deserved mockery from friends and family, I also acknowledge that, upon completion of the stated noveling objective, I am entitled to a period of gleeful celebration and revelry, the duration and intensity of which may preclude me from participating fully in workplace activities for days, if not weeks afterward.


Date: 31st March 2014

Novel Start Date: 1st April 2014

Novel Deadline: 30th April 2014

Feel free to tweet me encouraging quotes and messages! Care packages and foodstuffs will also be gratefully accepted! And if you decide that I’m crazy and you don’t happen to be writer: SHUT UP and keep it to yourself – and I mean that in the most loving and gracious of ways.

Signing off.


The books that time (and I) forgot

Have you ever taken time to look at your bookshelf and go back to books you have already read? As I have now completed my degree and am now at liberty to choose my reading material, based on only my personal preferences, rather than curricular necessity; I decided to browse through Amazon for some new books.

Three hours later….

My basket was full with £££’s worth of reading material, eagerly anticipating a cherished place somewhere on my many bookshelves. Alas, my purse could not and would not support such a purchase. The funds were, quite simply, lacking, even if my enthusiasm wasn’t.

Back to the basket and one hour later…

Having managed to narrow my choices, I found myself in book limbo. I was still over budget and the selection had to be condensed again. Sequels were discarded unless a series could be bought outright; hardbacks were sent to the wish list, awaiting their transformation into softer, more travel friendly (and wallet friendly) proportions. Finally, I clicked the ‘Basket’ button. The total was still rather higher than I expected.

So, I sat there.

Then, I got up, made a coffee and returned to the desk, trying to reduce the collection further. I genuinely tried to be selective, but only succeeded in staring into a literary void for a good twenty minutes, while my Colombian coffee blend cooled beyond drink-ability. Finally, I zoned back in, focused and saw a gold-lettered, book spine I hadn’t noticed for a while…it read Legend.

Curious, I picked it up and read the back (I unfortunately do judge books by their covers; their back covers at least). My memories of the David Gemmell’s Drenai tales were sketchy at best, so I read the first chapter, proceeded onto the second, got up and made another coffee while I read the third. Within a few hours, I was entirely absorbed with Druss the Legend, the Earl of Bronze and Ulrich the Nadir conqueror.

My Amazon order was forgotten. The promise of fresh, uncreased pages faded from mind, as I began to read a book my father had first given to me when I was 14 years old.

Three days later…

Legend was finished and back on the shelf; edges slightly more dog-eared from my bag. I had already started the next book in the Drenai Saga.

Three days later…

The King Beyond the Gate was finished and back on the shelf; edges slightly more dog-eared from my bag. I had already started the third book in the Drenai Saga.

Four days later (I left it home one day)…

I am halfway through Waylander, and I have no intention of discontinuing this series just yet.
Although, these books are not new to me, my recollection of plots and characters are muddled, so it’s a pleasant surprise to revisit and rediscover Gemmell’s world of heroic fantasy all over again.

Unfortunately for Amazon, they didn’t get any of my money (not yet anyway). But luckily for me, I have books to read for, at least the next month! 🙂