Which books have been the most useful to you in regards to your writing? Let’s make a list of books we’ve found helpful.
I found Orson Scott Card’s Characters and Viewpoint very helpful.
It seems to have somewhat polarised reviews, but I found it useful, especially the POV section.
Strunk and White is worth reading, and is an excellent demonstration of the value of brevity too.
One of the books I found most helpful was Fiction Is Folks: How to Create Unforgettable Characters by Robert Newton Peck. It’s an oldie but a goodie, engaging and full of examples of how to bring characters alive on the page. Another book I found helpful was Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels by Gwen Hayes. I’ve yet to find a better book on the structure and pacing of romance stories. Also, Write Your Novel From the Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers, and Everyone in Between by James Scott Bell is eye-opening and helped me look at stories from a new perspective, gaining insight and understanding character arcs in a brand new way. Finally, I believe Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere) by Lisa Cron deserves a mention, if only because it helped shift my thinking about planning out novel-length ideas before attempting them.
When I first started writing before I discovered Daniel and the Character First method, I read The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne as though it was the Bible. The podcast and website are helpful as well.
I also found Creating Character Arcs by K.M. Weiland to help me dig for the essence of the characters.
I’ve heard if there’s any one book to have on you craft shelf, Lisa Cron’s could well be it. It’s so frustrating to have no library at hand. When it comes to such essays, I’m a skimmer(and cheap), so I really do missing sitting down in a cubby with a stack of 700s and while away the day.
Best is The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman. Hugely influential guy who knows whereof he speaks! He’s a lit agent, a screen writer and an author but he’s mainly writing with his lit agent’s hat on. It’s an old book (first published in 1999) but well worth your while to look out for a copy. I couldn’t count how many times I’ve recommended this book to other authors.
Based upon how helpful I found Lukeman’s The First Five Pages so long ago, I also have his The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life and A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation on my physical shelf.
I’m enjoying Story Trumps Structure by Steven James and Take Off your Pants- Outline Faster by Libby Hawker
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott has always been a favorite of mine. I also always go back to On Writing by Stephen King. These are both less craft-driven than others, but they speak to some of the mental struggles writers face.
Hi, I have liked Story Genius by Lisa Cron. It is character first and shows you how to build a backstory and then write the story you mean to write with actions that follow logically from all the preceding actions. Don’t know if that’s clear. One of the first ones I read was The Secrets of Story by Matt Bird. It is a treasure trove but you kind of need to focus on it a bit at a time because it’s packed with so much material. Recently I came across Kris Kennedy’s Turning Point method and that crystallized so much for me! I’m excited she’ll be part of the Plotting Seminar!
I saw Kris Kennedy’s session for Brian Berni’s summit last month and it was amazing! It left me feeling inspired and energized to write. I’m looking forward to hearing her speak on the subject again.
This is a classic, but I still pick it up almost every week. “The Making of a Story” by Alice LaPlante. In addition to the lessons, the writing exercises are terrific to dust off every once in a while. I’ve had this in my writer’s library for more than ten years. Sometimes it is good to return to one of the classics. Both as a reader and as a student.
The best book I have found is “Save the Cat Writes a Novel” by Jessica Brody.
Just got a copy of Story Genius by Lisa Cron, LizW! It does look very good.
I know this is an old posting, but after Save the Cat Writes a Novel my most useful book has been Intuitive Editing by Tiffany Yates Martin. I’m looking for a good book on writing style (how to write beautiful sentences, not just grammatically-correct sentences). Maybe Nina Schuyler has one?
Nina Schuyler does have a great book titled, How to Write Stunning Sentences. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42424952-how-to-write-stunning-sentences?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=5Wh1zikTGa&rank=1
Thank you! I couldn’t remember the title of the book. Which is just silly since it says exactly what I’m looking for.
These books changed my writing:
Rivet Your Readers with Deep POV by Jill Elizabeth Nelson. It’s free on KindleUnlimited. It’s a practical, actionable guide to achieving Deep POV, the technique that will create the glue between your readers and your characters.
The Last Draft: A Novelist’s Guide to Revision by Sandra Scofield. This book really drills down into the “aboutness” of your novel.
Margie Lawson doesn’t have a book but you can buy her lecture packets and they will seriously improve your game.
And Lisa Cron’s Story Genius changed the way I think about writing. Her comment, “It’s all backstory,” set me free.
Sorry for necroposting, but I saw this thread and felt I had to contribute!
I’m incredibly picky about writing resources. It’s a booming business, I know, but I find most are middling at best and junk at worst. To avoid oversaturating myself with advice, I’ve narrowed my list of valuable resources down to three books.
I haven’t yet read the book (I’m trying to write more and worry less about reading about writing so that I can avoid “analysis paralysis”), but I’ve been perusing the materials on the Story Grid website for a while, and my writing has improved as a result.
Save The Cat! has been useful also. I know there’s a version explicitly for novels, but I find that the original (for screenplays) serves me well enough that I don’t need any other book.
Finally, I want to recommend a resource no one seems to have mentioned yet: the book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King. I found it several years ago in a bookstore by chance, and it is an excellent read, especially for those who may be struggling with the editing side of writing. I would describe its utility in detail, but I fear I’d end up writing an essay instead of a post.
Awesome thread! Great resources from everyone. I’d like to add:
*The Fantasy Fiction Formula by Deborah Chester
*Write Worlds Your Readers Won’t Forget by Stant Litore (I highly recommend this for fantasy worldbuilding)