Book Review: No Plot? No Problem! A Low Stress, High Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty

Long title, I know. With the July session of Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) just around the corner, I thought I would review this. Also, I need to post something on here this week and I was meaning to review this last week. Sorry!

No Plot? No Problem is your guide through the preparation, the process and the aftermath of doing NaNoWriMo (commonly known as NaNo), written by founder Chris Baty.

Including an introduction to the month and a history of how NaNo started, the book helps potential participants to work out what to write, planning and plotting, how to find time to write and getting the right equipment for the event before moving on to other issues connected to the event: telling (or not telling) friends, family and work colleagues about your endeavour, ensuring you complete the challenge plus eating and drinking right during the event.

The book also includes pep talks for each week of the event, which are recommended to be read at the start of each week along with the pep talks sent to your NaNo Mail on the website(s), a letter of congratulations, regardless of how well you have done, and a chapter on editing and getting published.

This book is well written, easy to read and very informative. Whilst US and November-focused, all the information applies to everyone and works just as well for Camp sessions (April and July this year). The writing is fun and exciting and Baty is very encouraging and engaging in the event. I really enjoyed this book and since buying it. I have used this book for several sections and have found it invaluable each time. The pep talks are especially helpful and have been great for picking me up when I felt down in the second and third weeks. I have also taken Baty’s advice for healthy snack food.

The only criticisms I have are two-fold. The introduction is slow and somewhat boring, making it difficult to read and the last chapter on editing and submitting to agents is short but since it is aimed at guiding people through the event and not the actual process of editing, rewriting and submissions to agents and publishers, it is forgivable and there are other books out there that can help on this (see my review on Road to Somewhere by Robert Graham).

This book is good fun, well written and excellent companion any month-long novelling venture (not just in NaNo sessions). I have turned to this book for help and advice when needed and would highly recommend it.


Book Review: The Road to Somewhere A Creative Writing Companion by Robert Graham, Helen Newall, Heather Leach and John Singleton

Okay, a return to normal service here.

The Road to Somewhere is not a how to book but rather it covers all the topics from starting to write, the materials you will need for the journey (journals, reading as a writer, etc.), the process of writing itself (including some discussion on poetry and scriptwriting), getting published and further. This is an academic book, aimed at students and teacher of creative writing courses but it is also a good book for individuals too.

This book was on my reading list back in  the first year of my university course but it has become invaluable for me as a companion when writing and when I need advice and I am stuck on things, I have turned to this book for help and advice. It is easy to read and provides practical as well as academic information. This is mainly for students as it was written and edited by current and former lecturers at Manchester Metropolitan University and Edge Hill University. I have looked at other writing courses around the country and seen this book appear time and again on reading lists.

This book also includes Agony Aunt sections covering being scared about failing, not having any ideas, finishing and the next steps, among others. I have used these sections a lot when needing quick help and then consulting the chapters and their essays when I have a bit more time.

I have had various books on my reading lists at university but this is definitely one of my favourites and is the reason I bought it. It might be an academic book but I found out that I could get a second-hand copy in good condition on Amazon Marketplace for cheap. If you are serious about writing and thinking about studying it as an academic subject, I would recommend buying this book.