It’s been a while since I’ve shared some of my favorite resources and, if you’re like me, you love a good book on the writing craft. Below are some of my favorites, but I recommend craft books with a caveat.
A great writer (Margaret Bechard) once told me that craft books can be a lot like parenting books. Some have really great advice and some make you feel like a terrible parent. Only you know your process and what works for you. Choose what works, consider the rest, and keep at it. The only true way to figure out your process is to write. Write, revise, and then write some more. Over and over again.
Here are some of my favorite craft books. As always, I link to my local indie bookstore, but definitely check out the ones in your area. You never know what you’ll find.
Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody– If you have ever struggled with how to plot a novel, Save the Cat breaks it down in step by step fashion. For years I struggled with plot and Save the Cat! breaks it down in a way that is easy to understand and adapt to meet your needs. Brody uses a screenwriting method and applies it to novels. My favorite part of the book is the Beat Sheet Brody gives to her readers. That alone is worth the investment.
Story Genius by Lisa Cron– Cron’s novel uses brain science and craft to teach the reader about writing. It covers everything from the beginning of an idea to first draft, how and why readers respond to novels and everything else in between. It’s a favorite among my writer friends. I’d also recommend her novel Wired for Story. Both are great resources to help you figure out the next steps in your novel writing.
Cheek by Jowl by Ursual K. Le Guin– Le Guin was a master of her craft. In my opinion, one of the most incredible writers to ever grace the field. Cheek by Jowl is for you Fantasy writers out there. It is a collection of wisdom and insight from Le Guin gathered from various appearances and articles on craft. Le Guin provides a different perspective on various novels causing the reader to examine how they critically view and breakdown other works. Thought it’s not a How To novel, her ideas are vast and she delivers them with the critical eye of an expert.
Bastards, Bullies, & Bitches: How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction by Jessica Page Morrell– I’ve always said the antagonist should be just as developed as your protagonist. They need to be believable and real. If you want to know how to write a complex and interesting antagonist, this book is for you. Morrell talks about villain basics, the various types of antagonist, characteristics of a great antagonist, and even how to make an antagonist sympathetic. It is one of my all-time favorite craft books.
Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland– My brain works in mysterious ways and, depending on the novel I’m working on, I need a great outline. Weiland’s book talks about the different types of outlines, how to choose one, crafting your premise, character sketches, and more. It’s a great place to figure out how to start your story and how to move it forward.
As always, keep writing!