What are you reading to prep for November?

I had a fairly extensive list last year, but this year I only really have planned to read the following by November:

  • The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie (this will be a reread but I want to figure out why I liked it so much)
  • Suspense Thriller by Paul Tomlinson
  • Elements of Fiction Writing: Character and Viewpoints by Orson Scott Card

What are you reading to prep for NaNoWriMo?


I tend to read books as inspiration, so…

  • Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant (for water inspiration) (already finished and it was PHENOMENAL)
  • The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley (for convoluted epic fantasy) (reading this now)
  • The Deep by Rivers Solomon (for water inspiration) (assuming I can get it from the library in time)

So far I’ve mostly been browsing through all the writing books I already have. I have a very clear plan for what I’m doing in September and October for Nano, so I’m just looking for little things that might help my plan go more smoothly. I did grab a few new books to try out this month though:

*The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. I’m still in the middle of this one, I’m taking my time on it (and he rambles a lot so I have to take breaks for my sanity). The mother of plot structure. I feel like I’ve read all the interpretations, but I’ve never read the original, so I’m doing it now.

*Take Your Pants Off! How to outline, by someone I cant remember. I didnt love it.

*Fool-Proof Outline by Christopher Downing. I bought this and TYPO! at the same time and was expecting for this one to be the dud. But I actually quite like it! It’s short, and is basically just a supplement for the Scrivener/Excel outline template the author created that you can download for free, but there’s some solid brainstorming, character, plot and scene questions in there that I am definitely going to incorporate into my own prep.

*Book Architecture by Stuart Horwitz. I’m re-reading this. All about what I call story gridding (aka story spreadsheets, tables, etc). The thing that JK Rowling did to outline HP, basically.

*The Ten Day Outline by Lewis Jorstad. Haven’t started it yet.


Story Genius by Lisa Cron.




Les Miserables - Victor Hugo (50% done. I read quickly.)
Studying History. How and Why - Robert V. Daniels.
Richard III - Desmond Seward (An opinion that I do not agree with. But I need to keep my mind open.)
Leonardo da Vinci - V. P. Zubov. (A Leonardo biography I’ve never read and found accidentally!)


On my to-read list before November 1st: “On Mercy” out of Seneca’s Moral Essays and Backgrounds of Early Christianity by Everett Ferguson for research and then, if I’ve got time, a couple of novels that take place the year I’m writing for half of my project. I should read some about writing itself, haven’t gotten around to doing that yet.


Seconding Story Genius - I bought it earlier this year and it’s made a huge change in how I plan for November already. It’ll definitely be at my side the whole time. I’ll also have No Plot, No Problem there, as every year.

I want to pick up some fiction books that might be in the general genre vibe I’m going for, but I haven’t had the time to find any! Looking forward to having the time for that once I’m done moving into my new apartment.


Currently reading the Gift of Fear :scream:, but mainly just reviewing my NaNo Bujo from last year to choose which prep materials I want to use this year.


Everyone should read The Gift of Fear.


The dognapping story is so bad…

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I’m currently reading Masters of Death!

I used to follow the author when she was writing fanfiction, but she made the switch to original writing and I’m just in love with her writing style.


I have a stack of historical mystery novels to work on this fall, to get me in the mood for writing my own historical mystery. Right now I’m reading The Ladies Guide to Etiquette and Murder and Murder at Morrington Hall. I’m also planning to reread How to Write Killer Fiction because it’s been a while. I’ll probably have a look at some of my other writing reference books before November.

I second the suggestion for everyone to read The Gift of Fear, as well as Protecting the Gift if you have kids.


I read Brave the Page, the YWP book that Grant and Rebecca wrote, and found it useful for adults as well, especially for breaking down the mechanics of what makes good writing good. Some of these concepts are hard for us to explain because we’re so immersed in the world of writing, so reading a work intended for a younger writer gave me a fresh perspective and inspiration for how to make my own writing better. (Which is good because it’s been suffering over the past few years.)

As for fiction and other works… well, not sure about that one, since my fiction reading has been suffering all year. But once I get a NaNo idea, maybe something will come up.


Same! I dont think I’m using her scene by scene method of outlining, but I love the way she creates characters.


Uh. Much research.

Ideally, finish:

  • The Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodard (Which is the history of the pirate occupation of Nassau)
  • Villains of All Nations by Markus Rediker (pirates from their own point of view)
  • The Sea Rover’s Practice By Bennerson Little (pirate tactics during the Golden Age — I should bump this one up on the list for sea battle stuff)
  • Reread Under the Black Flag by David Cordingly (pirates as they relate to their myths)
  • If a Pirate I Must Be… by Richard Sanders (biography of Bartholomew Roberts, although I may DNF this one if it gets to be too much)
  • Some primary source pirate trails from the library of Congress’s website

There are two more I want I read but I think they’re gonna be a “before editing” thing.

… no points for guessing the profession of my main characters.


Writing the Cozy Mystery and The Writers Portable Mentor for writing (No Plot, No Problem on standby for November)
How to Stop Time for fiction


I’m also reading this in the lead-up and finding it very helpful!


I’m currently (also) making my way through Story Genius by Lisa Cron. I find a lot of the research she references about stories and storytelling throughout history backs up a lot of my own inklings about this stuff.

I’ve also recently read Stop Worrying, Start Writing by Sarah Painter. Its a good general guide, with lots of tips for those of us who tend to over-think our writing.

Writing Into the Dark by Dean Wesley Smith might be helpful for the more Pantser-leaning NaNoer. I like a lot of what he says, but he encourages editing as you go, which is controversial for NaNo. His methods seem to be the opposite of the methods in Story Genius, so YMMV

I’d like to get my hands on Pep Talks for Writer by Grant, and Brave the Page by Grant and Rebecca. I’m very tempted to pick up the latest edition of No Plot, No Problem too, though I already own it of course…


Lots of good suggestions in here!

One of my weaknesses as a writer is remembering to include descriptions of setting, so I’m re-reading Mary Buckham’s Writing Active Setting series. This is the only book series that talks about description that makes sense to me. Highly recommended!