NaNoWriMo: Basic Survival

November 14th, 2008 by Melina

Part 2 — Books, Books, and More Books!


So here we are at Day 14 of NaNo. How’d that happen? The bad news is that I’m behind by a few thousand words, which I’m blaming on a seventh grader induced headache and the walking bundles of germs otherwise known as second graders. The good news is that it’s the last day of the notoriously awful week two.  

Chris Baty has been promising that Week 3 will be all warm and fuzzy. Let’s hope so!

But I digress.  I am here to offer Part 2 of Melina’s Survival Guide to NaNo. On the syllabus for today: Books, Books, and More Books!

As many of you know, I am a victim of very serious writer’s block. Without a map, I am incapable of writing anything more complicated than my first name. When this happens, I turn to the Mt. Everest sized pile of books next to my computer.

I’ve divided these books into two categories – books on craft and reference books.

Books on Craft

These books help with the initial set up of my plot.  I use them when something isn’t working and needs to be fixed. Not always that exciting, to be honest.  

Except for the NaNo themed books. Those, I turn to for laughs, advice, and inspiration.

Reference Books

  • The Joys of Yiddish (The best gift I ever got from Uncle Steve, the most avuncular of uncles. He’s been trying to get me to “tawk” right since I was a baby.)
  • Culture Shock Greece (Even though I already know most of the content, it sometimes helps to have it spelled out)
  • Music Horror Stories (Because my heroine is a singer)
  • Sun Signs (I don’t know jack about astrology, but Cherry Adair says she swears by it when she’s creating characters, and since she’s a noveling rock star, I checked it out from the library.)

These are the books that really spark the ideas. For example, without the Joys of Yiddish, how could I have written the following (warning – language alert):

“Have at it, Daphna. What are you going to call me this time? Noodnik? Schmendrick?” 

He didn’t think he’d screwed up badly enough for schmuck.

“Actually, I was going to go with schnorer. What the hell were you thinking, spewing all that, that. . .” 


Anyway. That might not make it through even the first stage of revisions. The point is that those words helped me think of a conflict that sparked a scene, which made my word count and my muses (“The Divas In the Basement”) very happy.

Another example. Thanks to Sun Signs and Culture Shock Greece, I figured out that my villain is a scorpio who likes darkness, fire, and worry beads. I also figured out that scorpios are known for beak shaped noses and reddish black arm hair, which makes my villain extra creepy.  

Bwah ha ha. . .

So there you have it. Writers, what are your most useful books? 

Next up, assuming that my brain is still in tact after this noveling marathon: Comfort Items and Good Luck Charms.

Now. You people have kept me away from my WIP long enough. My word count has been flatlining long enough.

See ya!

P.S. In November, “noveling” is a valid word. Chris Baty says so.

Posted in NaNoWriMo, Writing Life

2 Responses

  1. Pam

    I just listened to that Cherry Adair seminar! Yeah, she loves that Sun Signs book–let us know how it works for you.

    Good luck!!!

  2. Caryn Caldwell

    Excellent suggestions! Because, of course, all I need is yet another book on writing! Still, they’re so hard to resist…

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