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5 Books to Read Before Starting Your First Novel

Is 2018 the year you will finally start that novel you've always wanted to write? You know what I say?

DO IT!!!

But before you get too deep into your first draft, there are five books you might want to go ahead and read.

1. Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. Now, this book does have it's critics, but this is the book that helped me understand pacing as well as how to build suspense in any type of novel. Yes, the book says it's the last book on screenwriting you'll ever need. But let's remember... books are movies for the mind!

2. Writing the Breakout Novel (and Workbook) by Donald Maass. For my first novel, I photocopied the entire workbook and worked step by step through every exercise. While experienced writers might find the exercises tedious, first time writers will find it helpful in honing their plot and character development. I still have both sitting on my desk and probably will until the day my fingers no longer allow me to type. (And then I'll you talk to text because I'm stubborn like that.) And Donald Maass knows what he's doing. His literary agency represents authors like Kim Harrison, Martha Wells, and Justina Ireland.

3. No More Rejections: 50 Secrets to Writing a Manuscript that Sells. by Alice Orr. Written by a a romance writer who also had her own literary agency, this book is another staple on my desk. From writing the perfect first sentence to nailing the query letter, this book is a must have for every writer, published or not. This book is out of print but you can find it online for a decent price.

4. Real Revision: Authors' Strategies to Share with Student Writers by Kate Messer. Don't let the title fool you. Kate as put together a book that demystifies revision for anyone who finishes a novel and wonders what's next. True story, Kidlet#1 was in charge of laundry this week and I don't know how, but my copy ended up in the washing machine. (I have long ago stopped asking, "What? How?" Because the answer is always, "I don't know" or "I didn't do it".) I almost cried because I am just a few weeks away from starting revisions on not one, but two novels and I always like to skim through this book to remind myself of little tips to help along the way. This book is also out of print but pretty easily found at a decent price. TRUST ME! I just did a search two days ago.

5. Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author's Guide to Uniting Story Structure by K.M. Weiland (and Workbook). Now, to be fair, I have not read it yet, but it comes highly recommended by a writer I respect so it's going to be my first purchase of the new year. I can't vouch for it yet, but I'm really interested in seeing what I can learn from it.

That's it. My five recommended books to anyone thinking about starting their very first novel in 2018! If you use any of these books or have others that you would recommend, leave a message in the comments below!

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