Plano Writes: Technically, Literally

November is National Novel Writing Month! Challenge yourself to craft exciting dialogue, interesting prose and unique characters.

Join us at Schimelpfenig Library for The Write Workshop on Saturdays throughout November 2021 for ideas and inspiration. Presented by a published author, these four workshops will help you improve your story by creating well-rounded characters and putting them in engaging conflicts. Whether or not you’re taking the NaNoWriMo challenge, explore new ways of approaching your writing.

On November 13, 2021, library staff will present on the topic of The Active Hero. Give your characters agency within their story and discover how a motivated character can influence their plot.

Upcoming classes:

  • Active Hero || Saturday, November 13, 2021 | 10am | Schimelpfenig Library
  • Characters in Conflict || Saturday, November 20, 2021 | 10am | Schimelpfenig Library
  • Finishing the Arc || Saturday, November 27, 2021 | 10am | Schimelpfenig Library

View all of our Fall 2021 programs online.


We’re highlighting library materials to help you on your writing journey throughout the month. All writers — even the pros — are students of the craft, and all writers have something to learn. Whether you are familiar with your strengths and weaknesses, or you are simply unsure why your writing keeps coming out all wrong, there is a solution. Find the answers you need within some of Plano Public Library’s resources.


Writing Your Novel from Start to Finish by Joseph Bates

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Inside this resource, you’ll find a combination of exercises, how-to instruction, and motivational passages to keep you moving forward every time you sit down in front of your computer screen. No matter your skill level or genre, Writing Your Novel from Start to Finish will help you set goals and attain tiny wins that keep you motivated along the way to your completed novel.


Draft No. 4 by John McPhee

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Draft No. 4 is a master class on the writer’s craft. In a series of playful, expertly wrought essays, John McPhee shares insights he has gathered over his career and has refined while teaching at Princeton University, where he has nurtured some of the most esteemed writers of recent decades. McPhee offers definitive guidance in the decisions regarding arrangement, diction, and tone that shape nonfiction pieces, and he presents extracts from his work, subjecting them to wry scrutiny. In one essay, he considers the delicate art of getting sources to tell you what they might not otherwise reveal. In another, he discusses how to use flashback to place a bear encounter in a travel narrative while observing that “readers are not supposed to notice the structure. It is meant to be about as visible as someone’s bones.” The result is a vivid depiction of the writing process, from reporting to drafting to revising–and revising, and revising.


Mastering the Process: From Idea to Novel by Elizabeth George

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As the author of twenty-four novels, Elizabeth George is one of the most successful–and prolific–novelists today. In Mastering the Process, George offers readers a master class in the art and science of crafting a novel. For many writers, the biggest challenge is figuring out how to take that earliest glimmer of inspiration and shape it into a full-length novel. How do you even begin to transform a single idea to a complete book? Elizabeth George takes us behind the scenes and into each step of her writing process, revealing exactly what it takes to craft a novel. George offers us an intimate look at the process she follows, while also providing invaluable advice for writers about what’s worked for her–and what hasn’t. Mastering the Process offers writers practical, prescriptive, and achievable tools to creating a novel, to editing a novel, and to problem solve when in the midst of a novel, from a master storyteller writing at the top of her game.


Elements of Fiction by Walter Mosley

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Mosley guides the reader through the fundamental building blocks of fiction to deliver a master class on the writer’s craft. In a series of conversational and instructive chapters, Mosley breaks down the art of fiction to its most essential elements: character and character development, plot and story, voice and narrative, context and description. The result is a detailed depiction of the writing process, from the blank page to the first draft to rewriting, and rewriting again. Throughout, Elements of Fiction is enriched by the author’s reflection on his own methods and enlivened by engaging demonstrative examples, not drawn from other literary works but written by Mosley himself. Inspiring, accessible, and told in a voice both trustworthy and wise, Elements of Fiction is an indispensable book of tips, tools, and advice for writers and readers alike.


Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg

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 A widely admired writer and teacher of writing, Verlyn Klinkenborg now gives us a distillation of that experience in an distinctive book that will help anyone who wants to write, write better, or have a clearer understanding of what it means for them to be writing. Klinkenborg believes that most of our received wisdom about how writing works is not only wrong but an obstacle to our ability to write. Here he sets out to help us unlearn that “wisdom”–about genius, about creativity, about writer’s block, topic sentences, and outline–and understand that writing is just as much about thinking, noticing, and learning what it means to be involved in the act of writing. There is no gospel, no orthodoxy, no dogma in this book. Instead, it is a gathering of starting points in a journey toward lively, lucid, satisfying self-expression.

Who Says?: Mastering Point of View in Fiction by Lisa Zeidner

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A thorough, illuminating, and entertaining guide to crafting point of view, a fiction writer’s most essential choice. Who is telling the story to whom affects everything about a work of fiction, from the style and tone to the progression of its plot. Using hundreds of examples from both classic and contemporary fiction, novelist and longtime MFA professor Lisa Zeidner reveals how even seemingly unrelated issues-like what makes a rich description, how much characters need to “grow and change” to engage us, and what distinguishes literary and commercial fiction-are ultimately tied to point of view. Who Says? is divided into chapters that explore different points of view, from omniscient and first person to second person and child narrators, and offers an original way to reread well-known authors and reconsider our own work. Engaging and accessible, Who Says? presents any practicing writer with a new system for choosing a point of view, experimenting with how those choices affect the narrative, and applying these ideas to revision.


Dialogue: The Art of Verbal Action for Page, Stage, Screen by Robert McKee

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McKee offers the same in-depth analysis for how characters speak on the screen, on the stage, and on the page in believable and engaging ways. From Macbeth to Breaking Bad, McKee deconstructs key scenes to illustrate the strategies and techniques of dialogue. Dialogue applies a framework of incisive thinking to instruct the prospective writer on how to craft artful, impactful speech. Famous McKee alumni include Peter Jackson, Jane Campion, Geoffrey Rush, Paul Haggis, the writing team for Pixar, and many others.


100 Ways to Improve Your Writing by Gary Provost

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The classic text on writing well, now refreshed and updated. This is the one guide that anyone who writes-whether student, businessperson, or professional writer-should keep on his or her desk. Filled with professional tips and a wealth of instructive examples, 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing can help solve any writing problem. In this compact, easy-to-use volume you’ll find the eternal building blocks of good writing-from grammar and punctuation to topic sentences-as well as advice on challenges such as writer’s block and creating a strong title. It is a must-have resource-perfect for reading cover to cover, or just for keeping on hand for instant reference-now updated and refreshed for the first time.


Unless it Moves the Human Heart: The Craft and Art of Writing by Roger Rosenblatt

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Multiple award-winner Roger Rosenblatt has received glowing critical acclaim for his exceptional literary works–from the hilarious novels Lapham Rising and Beet to his poignant, heartbreaking, ultimately inspiring memoir Making Toast. With Unless It Moves the Human Heart, the revered novelist, essayist, playwright, and respected writing teacher offers a guidebook for aspiring authors, a memoir, and an impassioned argument for the necessity of writing in our world. In the tradition of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Rosenblatt’s Unless It Moves the Human Heart provides practical insights and advice on the craft, exquisitely presented by one of contemporary literature’s living treasures.


How to Write Fiction Like a Pro: A Simple-to-Savvy Toolkit for Aspiring Authors by Robert Newton Peck

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A simple-to-savvy toolkit for aspiring authors, celebrated author Robert Newton Peck provides emerging writers with the power tools they need to start building their own books. Readers will learn everything from pacing a story and writing dialogue that flows to molding the tangible “stuff” of life into characters and storylines of fiction. HOW is written in the straightforward, earthy, and humorous voice that fans of Rob’s fiction have come to know and love. Informative but not preachy, HOW’s lighthearted style immediately engages readers, inspiring them to take up the tools and write from their own lives and their own strengths. Learning isn’t a load. It’s laughter. Aspiring authors are sure to learn–and laugh–as they discover HOW to write fiction like a pro.


Browse our full collection in the Plano Public Library catalog. Want to explore further? See all of our NaNoWriMo-related blog posts within the tag.

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