Writing a novel is an immense task – especially if you’re trying to write it in just 30 days, like the hundreds of aspiring authors who participate in National Novel Writing Month each November.
Need some inspiration or encouragement for your own attempt? Here are five hot new novelists and their debut novels to check out for a burst of motivation.
Nathan Hill, The Nix
Hill, a native Midwesterner-turned-Neapolitan, took a bit longer than 30 days to pen his novel – The Nix was around 10 years in the making – but the years of work paid off when it landed on The New York Times’ Best Seller list and earned all-around rave reviews. The novel, which The New York Times called “hugely entertaining and unfailingly smart,” revolves around an aimless professor’s search for the truth about his long-lost mother, who stepped into the national spotlight after throwing rocks at a prominent politician. Hill’s specific knowledge fleshes out the main character’s interests and personality, proving that writing what you know can be extremely helpful.
Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, The Nest
This fascinating story about the dysfunctional Plumb family in Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest has drawn wide acclaim. After a reckless older brother, Leo, gets out of rehab, the three other Plumb siblings gather to confront him for endangering their mid-life trust fund, which they call “The Nest.” All family members are grappling with their own issues and self-inflicted problems when they come together to deal with their estrangement. The author’s realistic, fully-formed characters are equally compelling —something to take into consideration when fleshing out your own story’s characters.
Armando Lucas Correa, The German Girl
If you have an affinity for historical fiction, look to Armando Lucas Correa’s debut for inspiration. Set in the years leading up to World War II, The German Girl follows a 12-year-old Jewish girl and her family as they flee from Nazi-occupied Germany on an ocean liner bound for Cuba. Inspired by the real-life tragic voyage of the S.S. St. Louis, The German Girl isn’t exactly light reading in terms of mood but it is powerful and beautifully written. Correa’s novel, which survivors called true to life, is a lesson in the importance of research and careful handling of real tragedy.
Emma Cline, The Girls
If you’re seeking inspiration for a darker novel, check out Emma Cline’s debut The Girls, a tale of adolescent angst wrapped in an eerie, Charles Manson-inspired 1960s cult. In the novel, the protagonist, a lonely teenager named Evie, is drawn into the circle of a cult by its mesmerizing devotees—disquietingly described early on as “sleek and thoughtless as sharks breaching the water.” Cline’s writing is spellbinding, intense, and masterful; it’s no wonder The Girls is a New York Times bestseller. The author’s skillful command of words makes this novel well worth studying.
Jade Chang, The Wangs vs. The World
Arts and culture journalist Jade Chang debuted her first novel in October with The Wangs vs. The World, a brash, energetic story about a wealthy Asian-American family that loses everything and the cross-country road trip that reunites them. The story is about what it means to belong in America, and it offers a witty, vulnerable look at a deviation from the ideal American Dream. Chang puts the reader in the head of each member of the Wang family, something that brings her characters to life in a bold way. Authors juggling multiple character points of view, take note.